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Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Johnny Walker after loss at UFC Vegas 38?

UFC Fight Night: Santos v Walker Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone as UFC Vegas 38 blew the roof off UFC APEX last Sat. night (Oct. 2, 2021) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Mike Breeden, who got a rude welcome to the Octagon after Alexander Hernandez knocked him out in the very first round (see it here).

And Kevin Holland, who was basically knocked out by a inadvertent clash of heads in his fight against Kyle Daukaus. To make matters worse, the fight was allowed to continue and he was choked out moments later. On the bright side, the fight was overturned to a No Contest (NC) after official review (see it here). But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Johnny Walker.

Coming into his first-ever headlining bout, Walker was hoping to build off his big win over Ryan Spann and start another lengthy win streak on his quest to becoming UFC’s next “champ-champ.” It’s a bold proclamation Walker made prior to his fight, especially considering he has yet to get close to the championship conversation in any division. Nevertheless, the towering Brazilian wasn’t short on confidence.

Unfortunately for Walker, he simply didn’t fire off enough offense to convince the judges he deserved the victory, losing a unanimous decision to his fellow countryman, Thiago Santos.

It was a pretty tepid performance from both men, but Walker was particularly gun shy all night. Fight fans have been used to electricity from Walker win, lose, or draw every time he steps into the Octagon, but this time around the light switch just didn’t seem to turn on.

Granted, going all-out against a hard-hitting veteran such as Santos isn’t the best strategy, but if you’re going to try and squeak out a decision, you have to at least show the judges a sense of urgency, as well as some determination to take your opponents head off ... at least a little bit.

It was nowhere to be seen from Walker, who will now have a steeper hill to climb if he wants to fulfill his double champion prophecy. Walker is still just 29 years of age and has time to accomplish great things in MMA, but if he wants to get to the promised land he has to stick with what worked for him, and that’s being an aggressive head-hunter.

“The victory did not come to me, but it came to Brazil, congratulations Thiago Santos,” Walker wrote on Instagram. “Thank you all for your support, this is just the beginning, many victories will come. My time will come, I am working hard for it, a lot of focus and a lot of hard work. I will still give a lot of fruit and pride to my Brazil!”

As for what could be next for Walker, perhaps a fight against Dominick Reyes is in order. The former Light Heavyweight title contender has also seen better days inside the cage, having lost three straight including two in a row by way of knockout. Reyes needs a win in a bad way if he ever wants to get back to the big dance and Walker needs victories against top-ranked foes to take steps in the right direction towards his lofty MMA goals.

Because as Brandon Vera before him learned, declaring you will win two titles in two divisions after a hot start is easy to say, trying to accomplish it is quite a different story. Going 1-3 in your last four fights doesn’t make things easier.