UFC Vegas 38: Matured Johnny Walker Says Light Heavyweight is “My Division Now”

UFC Vegas 38’s Johnny Walker is thrilled to finally be fighting again.

“Bro, I’m so happy. It’s been so long, right? A little bit more than one year,” he exclaimed during this week’s media day. “It’s a long journey. I’ve learned so much from this.”

It’s been a while since Walker stepped inside the octagon. Just over a year; his last bout came against Ryan Spann in September of 2020. Injury has kept him on the sidelines since that win, at least in part.

“It was difficult, but it was really good for my personal life, because I realized so much stuff that I have to do to become what I want to be,” he said of the layoff.

The difference between the old Johnny Walker and the new? “I think I’m more mature now. I’ve got more experience, I’ve learned how my body works, what I have to do to become a champion,” he said. “And I learned from all of the mistakes. Now I’m committed to myself, I’m responsible for my life, for my family, I have so much to fight for.”

That has led to a renewed focus on fighting. “I just train, eat, sleep, repeat, every day. Focus on my diet, injury prevention, improve all of my skills, technique, I’m 100% focused. I’m living like a champion now.”

Walker returns against Thiago Santos, another hard-hitting Brazilian light heavyweight. “He’s a legend in Brazil, he fought for the belt.” Walker knows Santos has faced the top fighters in the promotion, and believes that match-up will show just how good Brazilian fighters. “We are warriors, and we’re going to represent our country good.”

He has no hesitations about fighting a fellow Brazilian, he added. “I have a different way to think about this. Any different country that you fight against, it’s just a job. It’s just a sport. I’m not an enemy of no country. I like everybody in the world, I don’t have no enemy in the UFC, or country, I like everybody. I don’t see it like this, I see it just like fights, good qualities, I want to fight any nationality, you know?”

If there was a theme to Johnny Walker this week, it seemed to be rebirth, or maybe just evolution. As he later put it, he’s no longer a boy but a man.

“I’m here to take over. I’m gonna smash this division. I’m gonna own this division. It’s my division now,” said Walker. “I’m hungry, I’m ready.” Walker made a comparison to the young fighter he was, who did so much damage in the light heavyweight division, and the focused, more experienced fighter he is now. “I’m a man now, I’m not a boy. And I’m going to take over.”

Watch the full UFC Vegas 38 media day scrum with Johnny Walker above. More coverage can be found below. The event takes place this Saturday, October 2 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.