Oh what a difference one fight can make. Before his bout with Corey Anderson at UFC 244, Johnny Walker was in a dead heat alongside Dominic Reyes for next shot at light heavyweight champ Jon Jones. But then Anderson starched the 27 year old Brazilian with a first round KO (watch it here). Now our expectations have shifted way, way down. Not only do we realize Walker obviously isn’t ready for a title shot, many are wondering whether he’ll be able to hang in the contender’s circle.
Walker will have a chance to redeem himself on March 14th at UFC Brasilia against Nikita Krylov, who is the same kind of tough and fundamentally sound fighter Anderson was. What will happen in that fight if Johnny can’t land the big flashy knockout early? Where does he go in the UFC if all that sizzle fizzles against opponents at this next level of competition?
We imagine these are questions Walker may be asking himself. Previously the Brazilian has traveled the world piecing together his training in various fight camps. But now he’s ditched his former head coach and is looking for a proper home at Montreal’s Tristar under the tutelage of Firas Zahabi, a coach renown for evening out fighters with lopsided skills.
Walker discussed the loss to Anderson with The Schmo and how the events surrounding it convinced him he needed to make a change.
”I don’t accept this loss because I can beat him,” Walker said. “I know that. But I had a little problem during the fight, fight week as well, before the fight some stress with my team. So I learned a lot and it’s not going to happen again.”
”I don’t train with my old coach any more because the problem is with him,” he continued. “During fight week he stressed me out twice and before the fight he almost hurt my shoulder because he don’t know how to hold the pad properly. We don’t match too well on fight week. For a long time I start having these, you know, because we live together, about respect as well. Somethings are not getting met. So now I have no coach and I’m trying to go to Tristar and look for a new coach and new experience and new guys. And I’m ready to restart again.”
While pinning the blame so heavily on his former coach isn’t a good look, at least it’s left Johnny with confidence that he’ll be able to turn things around.
”I’ll be ready. I’m going to train hard there, gonna learn as much as I can, I’m gonna beat Nikita Krylov,” he said.
As for the doubters?
”I don’t care what people think,” Walker said. “I’m going to be the same guy, but better.”
“I’m gonna work in everything,” he concluded. “Wrestling, jiu jitsu, strike, box, everything that I can work. I always learn and improve myself everyday. So I’ll be better and I’ll be back. Soon. The 14th of March. Brazil. My time to get the bonus of the night again.”
What do you think, Maniacs? Is Tristar the right place for someone like Johnny Walker?