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The Unsolicited Advisor: Give Herschel Walker a Real Fight, or Else Let Him Go

Herschel WalkerIf only Jimmy Hoffa had racked up a meager MMA record before he disappeared from the face of the earth, I feel certain Strikeforce officials would have found him and plugged him into a fight with Herschel Walker by now.

Forget the FBI, it's Strikeforce you want to call with those tough missing persons cases. Just make sure to tell them that the person you're looking for can make heavyweight and poses absolutely no threat whatsoever to the former NFL running back on Strikeforce's roster. They'll track him down and have him signed to a one-fight deal before his dinner gets cold.

Seriously, these guys are that good. If they weren't, how would they ever have found a guy like Scott Carson, who's been plucked from obscurity to face Walker at Strikeforce's Dec. 4 event in St. Louis?

As new acquisitions go, Carson is an interesting choice. He's 40 years old, 4-1 as a pro, and hasn't won a fight since 2001. The four people he's beaten have a combined record of 1-8. After taking a nine-year break from the sport, he got back into action this past June and suffered a first-round knockout at the hands of Lorenz Larkin (5-0).

Perhaps he showed some really spectacular skills during the brief time that he was conscious in that fight, but more likely he's the result of an intensive manhunt designed to find someone who looks decent enough on paper, but stands almost zero chance of actually beating Walker in a fight.

That, as far as we can tell, is the sole criteria by which Strikeforce chooses opponents for their football star cash cow. His first fight came against the now 1-3 Greg Nagy. It wasn't much of a test, nor was it intended to be, but at least it allowed Walker to get some TV time before getting his hand raised after a mostly meaningless win.

Now, instead of giving Walker a step up in competition for his second pro fight, Strikeforce has gone out of its way to find a punching bag with a pulse.

Why? Because it seems that no one at Strikeforce is interested in finding out whether Walker can actually fight. The question doesn't even interest them, and if they ask it there's always a chance that they may get an answer they don't like.

They already know everything they need to know about Walker, which is that his name alone draws headlines. Because he played in the NFL and because he's a known man to many people who don't care about MMA most of the time, adding him to a fight card guarantees a little extra attention. And who cares if he doesn't fight anyone decent? The fighting is almost beside the point in Strikeforce's eyes. Walker's there mostly for the photo op, which is why he gets handpicked opponents who no one has ever heard of.

"The goal with Herschel's next fight is to put him in a little more competitive environment and let him test his skills," Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told when explaining the choice of Carson as Walker's next opponent.

The article doesn't tell us whether he managed to say this with a straight face, but if so I have to assume he practiced at home in the mirror first.

The real shame is, maybe Walker can fight. He's certainly not quite championship material, but maybe even at 48 he could give some of the younger guys a real go. Then again, maybe not, but it doesn't matter since Strikeforce won't even give him, or us, a chance to find out. Coker would rather have him win meaningless fights than potentially lose a legitimately interesting one.

If that's all Strikeforce ever plans to do with Walker, it would be better to go ahead and end this little experiment right now. It may be good for some cheap headlines, but in the long run it will only harm the organization's credibility. How could it not? In the weeks leading up to this bout, the company's CEO is going to have to repeatedly defend the choice of Carson as an opponent, and in so doing attempt to sell the fans on the idea that this guy is somehow worthy of fighting on Showtime.

If I'm an educated MMA fan and I hear that incredible statement coming out of Coker's mouth, I can only conclude that he thinks I'm an idiot. He thinks I don't have the ability to look up the guy's record and do some quick math, otherwise he'd never try to tell me that this fight is worthy of a main card slot in what he'd have me believe is a serious MMA organization.

It's laughable, or at least it would be if it weren't so insulting.

Strikeforce doesn't want to see Walker fight. It wants him to show up and wave to the crowd, pose for a few pictures, then get a win on TV. His actual skills aren't what matters to Strikeforce, so there's no need to find out whether he really has any. That's a cynical way to approach matchmaking. It's also one that, in the long run, will do more harm than good.
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