Johnny Walker has exploded onto the scene as the latest hot prospect in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, but he’s in no rush for a title shot, as when he does reach the pinnacle of the sport, he intends to hold the belt a long time.
Las Vegas, NV — Johnny Walker (16-3) has made waves in just two fights in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. That’s two fights, and two Performance of the Night bonuses. Barely two minutes spent in the octagon. Two thunderous finishes. Now, at UFC 235 this weekend, Walker will hope good things come in threes.
The Brazilian is facing Misha Cirkunov, who just a few years ago was on a similar streak. Four wins in a thin division. But Jon Jones’ struggles outside the cage led to Daniel Cormier claiming the title. Then Cormier’s excursion to heavyweight muddied the waters further. With Jones back and looking to stay active, however, there’s suddenly the potential for several fighters to earn title shots this year.
Walker’s aware. He kept his eye on fellow Brazilian Thiago Santos’ fight last weekend against Jan Blachowicz in Prague. “A great fight,” he told Cageside Press. “A very good job.”
“I hope he goes to the title shot as well,” he said of Santos. Mind you, “I’m here too. But he deserves it more than me, to go to the title of course.”
That might surprise some. Yet for a young fighter, just hitting his prime, Walker is showing some impressive patience regardless of his quick work in the octagon. “I have to take my time, get more experience, and maybe in two years, I’m capable of a title shot as well.”
As to why he wants to take the long road, “I want to make sure, when I be there, I hold the belt for a long time. I have to get more experience.”
So after Cirkunov, who might come next? Walker isn’t worried about any specific names right now. “I’m in no rush. I’m twenty-six, I have time. Give me the names, send me location, I’m ready.”
Outside of his quick finishes, Walker’s victory celebrations have turned heads. It’s an aspect of the fighter that has helped him connect with fans. Like his mohawk and bow tie at Wednesday’s UFC 235 media day, it shows little bit of a goofy side. “It’s making me happy. Makes me feel good. I like to enjoy myself,” he told us. “When I fight, I feel free. I feel good. I love my job. I like to be happy.”
While Walker admitted to wanting to gain experience on route to an eventual title shot, don’t mistake that for nerves. “I’ve never been nervous. Why nervous? I’m ready. I train, like hell, every day, so hard. I don’t have to be nervous. I only go and fight and beat somebody.”
Again, something he loves to do. And why would he be nervous? After all, he picked fighting up like a fish to water. Walker went on to say that after starting some weight training at 17, he moved to Muay Thai and Jiu-jitsu. And after just four months of training, took his first pro fight, skipping the amateurs completely. He won.
“After my first fight, I felt, I was born for this.”
Johnny Walker faces Misha Cirkunov at UFC 235, this Saturday, March 2 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.