Herschel Walker

When Herschel Walker announced he would be trying his hand at MMA at 47-years of age, he was met with a ton of skepticism from literally just about everyone. Unlike other former professional athletes who have tried to make a similar jump, he approached it the right way with a humble, stoic demeanor and the willingness to prove it’s not about the money. He’s managed to win a lot of fans over, but questions still remain about his skill set and whether he’s worthy to compete on a such a big stage. We may or may not find the answer to those questions this weekend, but Walker is already proving to be a valuable asset to the sport.

He’s well respected in mainstream sports circles, and because of that, he’s shown the ability to open people’s minds about MMA who are otherwise very much against it. Case in point, Herschel Walker appeared on ESPN’s PTI show hosted by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, who have both slammed MMA in the past, and manged to convince them to tune in Saturday night.

“This sport has been cleaned up,” Walker said. “I think football and boxing is worse. In boxing you get knocked down, they give you a standing eight count, you’re still woozy and then you get back in there and fight. In football you’ve got all the concussions. Years ago this was a brutal sport, years ago there’s no way I would have gotten involved in it, but it has become a sport, it has become an art.”

“Herschel, what you’re doing sounds insane to me, but I know you’re very serious about it,” Kornheiser said, adding that Walker seems like too sweet a person to hurt anyone,

Walker responded, “I don’t know that I’m stepping in the cage to hurt anyone. I’m stepping in the cage to compete.”

“I’m going to watch it now,” Wilbon said. “I would not have watched otherwise, but I’m checking it out now.”

Kornheiser added, “I’m going to watch with one eye.”

The jury is still out on Herschel Walker inside the cage, but outside of it, he’s bridging gaps and proving to be a great ambassador for MMA. Regardless of what happens this weekend, let’s hope Walker stays involved with MMA one way or another. He’s definitely the type of person we need on our side to help the sport grow.

Image via Esther Lin for Showtime