Saturday’s UFC Vegas 48 was not a good night for light heavyweight Johnny Walker. Once considered a real threat in the UFC’s 205lb waters, Walker fell to Jamahal Hill, and will have to regroup, rebuild, and figure a few things out moving forward. In the co-feature, Jamie Pickett was submitted by the “D’Arce Knight” Kyle Daukaus. Here’s what could come next for Walker, Pickett, and other fighters who struggled in their most recent outing.
Remember when people were talking about Johnny Walker as a real threat to the supremacy of Jon Jones? It seems like a lifetime ago. Jones has long since left the weight class behind him, while Walker has floundered, falling to 1-4 in his last five bouts in a quick, brutal loss to Jamahal Hill.
Credit to Hill for landing the knockout blow, and making a meme out of Walker, who dropped in dramatic, awkward fashion. The problem now is, where does Johnny Walker go from here? The three fight win streak he had to start his UFC run is a distant memory. His only win since then came against Ryan Spann, in a wild fight in which Walker himself was nearly finished.
Walker’s exciting style is what made him a fan favorite, but he’s died by that same sword a few too many times now. He never even got started against Hill. When he settles in and goes the distance, meanwhile, he’s come up short against fighters like Thiago Santos and Nikita Krylov.
There’s no question Walker has talent, and his personality helps him stand out in the shallow waters of light heavyweight. But more than anything, he needs a step back. It’s tempting to even give him an unranked opponent, given Walker’s likely to drop a few spots back from his current #10 ranking thanks to his most recent loss. When it comes to ranked opponents, Jimmy Crute would have been the perfect match-up, but he’s out the rest of the year with a knee injury requiring reconstructive surgery.
That brings us to Ion Cutelaba. The Moldovan is coming off a single win, after going through his own rough patch. He had been paired up with Ryan Spann next weekend, but the fight fell through when Spann dropped out. The UFC may be intent on keeping that match-up together, but if not, book him against Walker. You’ll either see Walker adapt, or he’ll get into another brawl, which will at least have exciting results win or lose.
Walker’s next fight: Ion Cutelaba
There’s little downside to Jamie Pickett’s loss to Kyle Daukaus at UFC Vegas 48. He took the fight on short notice, got caught in a D’Arce choke, and that’s that. It snapped a two-fight win streak, but “The Nightwolf” saved the fight, doing so on a card that had already taken several hits.
This is one of those cases where you can still reward Pickett despite the defeat. Joaquin Buckley picked up a split decision win at UFC Vegas 48, and has now won two straight. Thanks to involving D.U.S.T. Commander Dale Brown, Buckley got some extra eyeballs on him, with more than just the MMA media picking up the story. Neither men are ranked, both will get a bit of time off, and you can safely pair them up for a fight four or five months down the road.
Pickett’s next fight: Joaquin Buckley
French heavyweight Alan Baudot has not had an easy go of things early in his UFC career. Were it not for his loss to Rodrigo Nascimento being overturned to a No Contest (Nascimento flunked his drug test), he’d be 0-3 right now. His loss to Parker Porter saw him outworked, and he’s in do or die territory if the UFC chooses to keep him around. Given the need for bodies at heavyweight, they probably will.
The only option for Baudot at this point is either a newcomer, or someone on a similar skid. Josh Parisian is 1-2 in his UFC run to date, and last fought in December. They both technically have two losses, and either Baudot gets his first win, or gets shown the door.
Baudot’s next fight: Josh Parisian
Imagine waiting a year to make your UFC debut only to be paired up with the record holder for most fights in the promotion’s history. The UFC’s matchmakers did Nikolas Motta no favors by pairing him with Jim Miller at UFC Vegas 48. The veteran smoked Motta, and now the Brazilian will need to bounce back.
Mexico’s Genaro Valdéz suffered the first loss of his pro career at UFC 270 last month. Like Motta, he’s a Contender Series winner now looking for his first UFC win. The timing works well, the records are comparable, and it should be an exciting fight.
Motta’s next fight: Genaro Valdéz
Abdul Razak Alhassan
At 1-4 in his last five fights, you really have to wonder if the UFC plans on keeping Abdul Razak Alhassan around. He struggled to make the welterweight limit, missing twice in 2020 before returning to middleweight last year. His lone win since 2018 was a head kick finish of Alessio Di Chirico.
If he gets another fight, then give him A.J. Dobson, who recently lost his UFC debut. Another option would be Tresean Gore, but we’ve already suggested a match-up between Gore and Ugly Man Joe previously. Although honestly, any of those three would work.
Alhassan’s next fight: A.J. Dobson