Kyle Walker's New Challenge -- MMA


By WSIL Sports
By Bret Beherns

DU QUOIN -- Mixed martial arts is a long way from the football field. But for Kyle Walker, the differences are few and far between.

"Football, it taught me how to dig deep and really go after something if I wanted it," Walker said. "And with being in here, these guys really teach you how to have good work ethic and to really run after something."

Walker grew up playing football and was a two-time all-state selection at Herrin High School. He went on to play at SIU, where he led the team in sacks as a senior.

"Once I got done with football I decided my lifestyle needed to change so I talked to my buddy and he got me up here training," the 5-9, 170 pound figher said. "It's something I could pursue and be good at."

Kyle has spent the last year training at Animal House MMA in Du Quoin. Gym co-owner Nathan Marks has worked with Walker, adapting what he learned on the football field to the cage.

"To have somebody that's come in and done all these physical sports and aggressiveness and stuff like that, it's a lot easier," Marks said.

Just like football, Kyle uses a quick and aggressive approach in the octagon. In a match last year in Marion, he knocked out his opponent in only 10 seconds.

"I saw that he was a little bit dazed, so I pretty much just started swinging for the fences," Walker said.

"I think Kyle's got enough natural ability and skill set now to go as far as he wants to," Marks added.

For Walker, that means the Ultimate Fighting Championship. UFC is the sport's biggest stage and it's exactly where Kyle wants to go.

"As an athlete, you never want to have to give up on a dream of making it in something," he said. "It's about as close to football as I can get."

That dream continues Friday night in St. Charles, Missouri, when Walker fights for the seventh time in his career. Searching for another knockout in hopes of bigger things to come.
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