Since he entered mixed martial arts competition, former superstar NFL Player Herschel Walker has become something of an adopted father figure for the sport.

Charismatic, articulate, and carrying a tried and tested reputation as an elite level athlete – when he talks, people listen.

And the 48 year-old is more than happy to talk about the sport he’s fallen in love with as is the case this week as he prepares to make only his second venture into the cage against the little known Scott Carson at Strikeforce: Diaz Vs Cyborg on Saturday night.

“MMA is a tough sport, I think it’s probably the best sport I’ve ever, ever competed in.  When I first saw it I loved it, and I thought these guys were some of the best athletes I’d ever seen,”

While some who are unfamiliar with the sport may be skeptical of such remarks, Walker feels he’s qualified to make such statements.

“I think I’m a person that’s able to say it.  You look at someone like Daniel Cormier who competed in the Olympics, Dan Henderson, you know, a lot of people who competed at another level in another sport, they’re able to say something like that.  And I’ve competed in a lot of sports at the highest level, and I can say MMA is probably the toughest sport I’ve ever done.”

And Walker feels mixed martial artists aren’t given the respect they are due.

“I think these guys don’t get enough credit.  People think that they are these brutal brutes, that they are just beating up on people.  They are very intelligent.  When you step into the Octagon it’s like human chess.”

I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of a relatively meaningless match-up like Walker Vs Carson taking up space on a major Strikeforce main card, but it’s hard not to like the man himself, and he’s certainly become a great ambassador for the sport.

Watch Walker’s full interview below.