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Walker aims for January return to Strikeforce

December 2, 2010 | 10:03 pm

Taking your lumps is part of mixed martial arts' game and NFL great-turned-MMA novice Herschel Walker has been no exception to this.

Last week, Walker, 48, withdrew from his second professional bout against Scott Carson scheduled for Strikeforce “Henderson vs. Babalu” this Saturday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., after sustaining a facial cut in training.

“It was a freak accident,” Walker told The Times. “I had just finished sparring and was getting in some grappling with Daniel [Cormier]. I went to flip him and his knee collided with my head. I felt the knee, but didn’t even know I had been cut at first.”

The laceration under Walker’s left eye required eight stitches, prompting the fighter’s American Kickboxing Academy trainers to pull him from the bout. Walker said his coaches feared he might not get medically approved for the bout or that the soft tissue (the stitches were removed earlier this week) would make him an easy target for re-opening during the fight.

“I felt bad for Daniel because he felt so bad. I also feel very bad for Scott [Carson],” said Walker, who has trained at the San Jose gym since October 2009. “I know how hard it is for fighters to get a fight. Everyone wants to make some money, especially around Christmas.”

Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 and competed for the U.S. Olympic bobsled team in 1992, has drawn major attention for his participation in MMA thus far. Walker’s debut last January -- a third-round TKO victory over Greg Nagy at Strikeforce “Miami”  -- attracted 517,000 viewers for Showtime, the cable network’s third highest audience for the live event series to date.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said Walker could be re-scheduled to fight at the promotion’s Jan. 29 show at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. Coker said he was uncertain if the 4-1 Carson, who was also pulled from Saturday’s card, would remain Walker’s opponent.

The 12-season NFL veteran said he’d welcome the January bout and has chosen to stay at the AKA academy through the holidays to help teammates Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Wayne Phillips and others for their upcoming contests in the UFC and Strikeforce.

“I’ve trained all my life,” said Walker. “The doctors don’t want me to train for three weeks, but I’m a little hard-headed. I’m trying to sneak in as much training as I can and I want to be there for the other guys. They’ve helped me so much. I want to help them with their cardio or whatever I can do.”

Saturday’s Strikeforce event will be anchored by a light heavyweight rematch between seasoned veterans Dan Henderson and Renato “Babalu” Sobral and airs live on Showtime.

--- Loretta Hunt