Former NFL star Herschel Walker is in San Jose, Calif., and has officially begun training with the American Kickboxing Academy team in preparation for his Jan. 30 MMA debut.
Though his opponent has yet to be named, a Strikeforce official told FanHouse an announcement would probably be made in the next two weeks. In the meantime, Walker, a tae kwon do black belt, is spending his days at the AKA gym, working out and sparring with fighters including UFC heavyweight Cain Velasquez, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News.
Apparently, the early reviews are positive.
Head trainer Javier Mendez, who is working with Walker, has good things to say about the onetime Heisman Trophy winner and former bobsled Olympian.
"He's no joke," Mendez told the newspaper. "He's green. But he's got unbelievable ability and is really, really strong. He also has a willingness to learn. You can see why he was such a great football player. He won't shy away from anything."
The story includes a photo gallery of the 47-year-old Walker, who at 6-foot-1 and 217 pounds, is clearly in phenomenal shape. But as many fighters have proven over time, outside presentation has little to do with in-cage results.
A two-time Pro Bowler who averaged 4.2 yards per carry and scored 82 touchdowns in his career, Walker claims he could still play in the NFL and that he is faster than 80 percent of the players in the league. He retired in 1998 after 12 years in the NFL and three years in the USFL.
How that translates into MMA remains to be seen. The decision to train with AKA is a positive step, and if he stays with the team all the way leading up to his fight date, it would give him what amounts to a standard eight-week camp.
"I wouldn't have gotten into this if I didn't know I could do it," he said. "I can fight."