It is rare to see a genuinely exciting prospect at light heavyweight. The 205-lb. weight class has been a wasteland for years- the last young talent to break through was Alexander Gustafsson, or perhaps Anthony Johnson depending on your criteria. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, we were gifted Dominick Reyes, who already transitioned from prospect to 6th-ranked contender with his comprehensive win over Ovince St. Preux, and Aleksandar Rakic, who faces Devin Clark at UFC 231. Now, Johnny Walker must be included in that number after his bonus-winning KO of Khalil Rountree. Like Reyes, 6’4”, and Rakic, 6’5”, Walker towers above most of his opponents at 6’6”, and he knows how to use his frame. He also has athleticism in spades- his signature backflip after a win is testimony to that.
He has an easy name to remember- Johnny Walker. The Brazilian has a unique personality, too. Walker’s request after his debut win wasn’t a bonus (though he got one), it was to be included in the UFC video game, even though UFC fighters get no compensation for the use of their likeness, unlike athletes in most mainstream sports.
“Dana White, please! I want to play with myself in PS4! Put my character in the game! Please, it’s my dream! Please!”
Hey @danawhite, you up? pic.twitter.com/q5qCRiPvSF— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) November 18, 2018
He also apologized for his first-round finish, saying he had been preparing for a three-round Fight of the Night. It wasn’t his fault the elbow dropped Rountree.
His real name is actually Walker Johnny, and he has been through hell to get here
“I was born for this,” Walker said. “When I focus on something, I get it done. I wake up at six in the morning and go swim, or I’ll lift weights, run, do something. I have focus, I never thought about giving up. Even when I was hungry and had nothing to eat, I believed in God that someone would help me. Sometimes I had to choose which bill I would pay because I didn’t have money for all of them. That struggle, nothing would get me out of the way. I was born for this shit, man, and I will get to the top.”
Walker has been fighting professionally since 2013, compiling a record of 15-3, with a 7-fight winning streak, and while most of his wins are first-round knockouts, he did win an exhausting 3-round decision over Henrique da Silva in the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series, that saw him throw repeated flying knees, head kicks, and even an axe kick at his opponent, while showing off pretty good wrestling and several sweeps. It will be interesting seeing the development of a truly talented prospect at light heavyweight.
Welcome to the UFC, Johnny Walker.