Professional mixed martial arts has come a long way, but once in a while I’m reminded of just how far we have left to go.
I came across an article Sunday that certainly reminded me. The article was written by one John Canzano, a sports columnist at The Oregonian, and according to his bio, he was named “America’s No. 1 sports columnist in 2009 by The Associated Press Sports Editors”.
He has written a critical piece on Herschel Walker‘s involvement in MMA that I felt the need to address.
Canzano says he is “disturbed” that Walker is involved with professional mixed martial arts and alleges the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner must be “bored out of his mind” to want to fight professionally. He can think of no other reason why Walker would want to compete in MMA.
First of all, Canzano makes some very bold assumptions which show a lack of research.
He says, “…while he’s [Walker] 1-0 professionally, I’m sure he aims to fight one day for a heavyweight championship on some level in this sport.”
Really? And what gave you that certainty?
Certainly not Walker. As a matter of fact, one of the only reasons any of the hardcore MMA fans have gotten behind Walker at all is because of the way he has approached this whole thing, professionally.
He has said from the beginning he would only fight if and when his coaches at American Kickboxing Academy said he was ready. And at no time have I ever heard anyone, least of all Walker himself, say his intentions were to one day become a Strikeforce or MMA champion.
The message I get from Walker is one of encouragement and inspiration, to show people what is possible. He is showing people that even at 48-years-old a person can go after and achieve their goals and dreams. He is breaking down stereotypes about age and what we can accomplish if we set our minds to it.
Maybe he will fight for a title one day. But it is highly unlikely and far from certain. Walker was not even certain he was even going to have a second fight.
Walker has a long long way to go before anyone would talk about him being involved in a title fight. One thing is definite though, he won’t be fighting for a title in the UFC. Ever.
But Canzano thinks he has it figured out. He says, “Ultimately, they’ll pad his record to 7-0 or 8-0 and throw him in against Brock Lesnar or current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. Again, the point there isn’t a show of impressive skills, but a big show nonetheless, and a giant payday.”
Pad his record and throw him in against Lesnar or Velasquez? Really?
You really think Dana White would let that happen?
And this guy Canzano was named America’s No. 1 sports columnist in 2009?
Canzano goes on to talk about Walker’s upcoming opponent, Scott Carson (4-1) who he faces on the “Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg” main card on Jan. 29 in San Jose.
Canzano calls the fight “a joke” and “sad” and says, “It’s going to be even worse when Walker wins, advances in the sport, and someday finds himself in a fight with a younger, more skilled fighter who wads him up and discards him. … Even he should know that he’s been setup with a patsy, dragged in to get knocked out, and help Walker advance.”
Canzano makes the assumption that Carson is a “can” because he’s 40-years-old, has only had one fight in nine years and it was a first round knockout loss. However, it is important to note, that fight, which took place in June 2010, was against an undefeated Lorenz Larkin (7-0).
Canzano also seems to forget one thing, anything can happen in a real fight. Why don’t you ask Scott Carson if he feels like a patsy and if he plans to let Walker run over him?
Carson addressed the naysayers back in November, ”I plan to shut up all the critics, each and every one of them. Let them write something factual after they’ve seen me on Dec. 4… I’m training every day. But the fact that some people aren’t giving me a chance is only giving me extra motivation. This is going to be a great fight.’’
The fact is, this fight was originally supposed to happen back in December but Walker suffered a cut that needed stitches and the fight was postponed. All that did was give Carson more time to tune up his game.
Three of Carson’s four wins have come by submission and if he knew how to submit people a decade ago, you can bet he still does.
Would Strikeforce be happy if Walker won? I’m sure they would, because after all, they have a business to run and Walker has mainstream appeal and star power.
At the end of the day though, I can at least partially understand someone not being too keen on the idea of Walker fighting, but NOT for the reasons Canzano gives. He makes it sound as if the promoters are taking advantage of Walker, setting him up to fail and just want to make a buck off his name, as if Walker can not make his own decisions.
Walker himself has said he wants to be an ambassador for the sport. Also, I wonder if Canzano knows Walker gave away his entire fight purse to charity the first time he fought.
What’s worse is Canzano uses the Walker-Carson fight as an excuse as to why he doesn’t like MMA, as if this type of fight is the norm. “I want to like this sport,” he says. “I want to understand it. I want to cover it, and write about it, and take it seriously. But how can I while the sport itself aims to be a circus?”
How does the sport “aim to be a circus” Carzano? Because of Herschel Walker?
If you are going to judge the sport as a whole, then you need to look at it as a whole. Yet Carzano offers no other examples aside from Walker that MMA is a “circus.” Also, if you’re going to judge the sport as a whole, you must first of all analyze the UFC which is the predominant representative of the sport. But Carzano does not do that.
Herschel Walker has competed at the highest level of several different sports. He is one of the most versatile athletes to ever walk the planet and for this guy to try and discredit his pursuit of mixed martial arts is highly disrespectful. And for him to try and use it as some excuse as to why he can’t be a fan of the sport as if it is somehow beneath him is laughable. Enjoy your baseball Canzano, MMA doesn’t need you or your approval.
You can read John Canzano’s article here: “Canzano: Herschel Walker is mixed up in the wrong martial arts,” but you would mostly be wasting your time. You’d be better off watching Walker himself talk about why he fights in the video below.
Here is a recent video of Walker talking about his involvement in MMA: