Even at 48, Herschel Walker is still a rookie when it comes to mixed martial arts.
You wouldn't know it by watching Walker's impressive performance Saturday night at HP Pavilion. For that matter, you wouldn't be able to tell that he's 48, either.
Wearing a backward cap and a tight No. 34 shirt, Walker looked the part of a 20-something up-and-comer as he strutted into the Strikeforce cage. Minutes later, the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL star walked out with an eye-opening victory, his second technical knockout in two career fights.
Walker barely broke a sweat, getting the TKO 3:13 into the first round of his bout with Scott Carson. Afterward, he said he hopes the win "puts the talk about age to rest."
"If you have a 20-year-old that wants to run me in the (40-yard dash), I'll run it,— Walker said. "If you have a 20-year-old that wants to face me in basketball, I'll take him. I prove age doesn't matter."
Walker drew some of the loudest cheers from a sellout crowd of more than 9,000 that later watched Nick Diaz and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza successfully defend their Strikeforce world championships. In the night's final fight, Diaz submitted Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos in the second round to win his ninth straight fight and retain his welterweight championship.
Walker, who made his MMA debut last January, probably will never even get to nine career fights or get a shot at a championship. But he's taking advantage of the time he has left in the cage.
Walker was the aggressor from the moment he and Carson touched gloves. Seconds into the fight, Walker blocked a punch and landed a huge left, sending Carson (4-2) to the canvas. Walker threw body blows for the next two minutes, one of which sent Carson's mouthpiece flying.
Walker let Carson up and quickly pounced again with another flurry of punches before the fight was stopped. Walker landed 40 of 58 strikes thrown; Carson threw just six strikes.
"I don't know what I did to be honest with you," Walker joked. "Scott kicked me twice and I said, 'Guy, if you want to go, we'll go.' I'm not here to entertain people, I'm here to fight."
Walker downplayed any talk of getting a future title shot, saying the only belt he could wear was one he bought.
Diaz (24-7) and Santos (18-14) exchanged blows for nearly two full rounds of an exciting fight before Santos took the action to the ground. Diaz locked in an armbar, submitting Santos with seconds left in the round.
"I think I put on a decent performance," Diaz said. "(Santos) is probably the biggest guy I've ever fought, and he kicks harder than anyone else I've fought. I expected what I got, and I'm happy with surviving that fight."
Diaz declined to say which fighter he wants to face next, but he took shots at several potential opponents who haven't impressed him.
"Anybody who makes it into Strikeforce obviously has a lot of potential, but that's the best thing I can say about anybody they have to fight me," Diaz added.
One guy Diaz said he respects is Robbie Lawler, who gave Souza (14-2) problems early in their middleweight championship fight, but Lawler's fitness failed him as the fight wore on. Souza came out strong in the third round, taking down Lawler (18-7) and getting a submission two minutes into the round.
In the first fight of the televised card, Roger Gracie and Trevor Prangley got off to a slow start and drew jeers from the crowd after circling each other for much of the first round. Gracie (4-0) won by submission with 41 seconds left in the round.
Contact Alex Pavlovic at 408-920-5899.