UFC light heavyweight phenom Johnny Walker will look to begin his march toward not one, but two division titles when he collides with former 205-pound title contender Thiago Santos in the UFC Vegas 38 main event this Sat. night (Oct. 2, 2021) inside APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“When I get the belt [on my shoulder], I’ll want one on the other side as well,” Walker told MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, “I’ll defend it once, twice, and move up to heavyweight to make history. After I take off, brother, I’ll burn all the fuel until I see how far my rocket can fly.”
The 29 year-old Walker (18-5) graduated Dana White’s “Contender Series” back in summer 2018 and quickly racked up three consecutive first-round knockout finishes. The hype soon came to a halt at the hands of Corey Anderson, followed by a second straight loss to Nikita Krylov, before Walker eventually rebounded (violently) against Ryan Spann.
Stopping Santos would make a serious statement in the 205-pound division.
“I won’t say he’s old and can’t fight the way he used to, of course, but I’m 29 and already went through two surgeries, and he’s been through many surgeries too and many injuries, you know?” Walker continued. “I’ll KO him, I’ll submit him, I’ll fight hard all the time. I’ll be more cautious, circle around, get in, connect and get out, take him down and get back up. He’ll lose his mind, he won’t understand where it’s coming from and what I’m going to do, and that’s when I’ll catch not only him but all of them.”
Santos (21-9), now 37, was oh-so-close to taking the light heavyweight strap away from Jon Jones in their tightly-contested affair at UFC 239, where “Marreta” dropped a split decision. Unfortunately, his follow-up fights have resulted in consecutive losses to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic.
A loss at UFC Vegas 38 would all but eliminate the Brazilian bruiser from the crowded light heavyweight title hunt.