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UFC Vegas 48, The Morning After: Should Johnny Walker return to Heavyweight?

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UFC Fight Night: Walker v Hill Weigh-in Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

At this stage of the game, we can probably all agree that Johnny Walker needs to make a change ... again.

The Brazilian knockout artist started his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) career with an incredible 3-0 run, but recent results have not been kind. Walker has lost four of his last five, suffering three defeats by knockout. In the sole win during that stretch, Ryan Spann dropped Walker twice. That’s a lot of damage, and it’s happened quickly, with the first loss only dating back to Nov. 2019.

Something has to change.

Walker himself is aware of it, which is the reason he changed camps to train with John Kavanagh in Ireland. Two fights since that adjustment, and it’s not enough. Many fans online blame Walker’s chin, which isn’t a theory without basis given five knockout losses in seven defeats.

What’s the cause though? I have an idea, and it’s not a hypothesis based on provable evidence or any insider knowledge about Johnny Walker. Instead, it’s based on my own experiences as a professional fighter, and conversations I’ve had with teammates and peers. Put simply, my opinion is this: Johnny Walker is cutting too much weight, and it’s f—king up his ability to take a shot.

The science behind the relationship between dehydration and one’s chin is not exact nor fully proven, but the general consensus seems to be that a dehydrated brain does not absorb strikes all that well. There are plenty of examples that support the concept, like Dustin Poirier absorbing Conor McGregor’s punches far better at Lightweight than 145 pounds. Anecdotally, I’ve known fighters who feel dizzy backstage as a consequence of the weight cut, and thus are very fearful to absorb even light contact in the fight itself.

Have you noticed how Walker tends to react strangely when clipped? That can happen any time a fighter is clipped on the temple, but it’s quite consistent with Walker. He chicken dances whenever stunned, which sure seems like a sign his brain isn’t taking the impact well. I don’t claim to know everything, but Walker ticks all the marks in my eyes of a fighter who is suffering the physical consequences of a severe weight cut.

Here’s a fun fact: prior to his UFC debut, Walker was the top-ranked fighter in Brazil at both 205 pounds and Heavyweight. He’s 6’6” and has an 82-inch reach. He’s a monster. And he has the experience and frame to compete in the biggest division. At this point, isn’t it worth a shot?

Still, my theory is just that. It’s conjecture, and those close to Walker may have a better understanding of the root of his knockout losses. One way or another, Walker must make a change, because he cannot continue to absorb such brutal damage at such a rapid rate.

The man is just 29 years old.

For complete UFC Vegas 48: “Walker vs. Hill” results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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