Las Vegas, NV — Johnny Walker returned to the win column at UFC 279 for the first time since 2020 when he submitted Ion Cutelaba in the opening round.
Cutelaba opted to take the Brazilian down early, and that may have backfired. Walker was more than prepared for the grappling game, locking up a rear-naked choke in the final minute of the frame.
“I knew he was going to take me down, because he’s a good wrestler, but he don’t have good control on the floor,” Walker (19-7) told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight. “And I’m a good striker, I improved my defense, because I stayed there, I want to fight, he don’t really fight, he don’t throw much. I was ready to fight in a different situation. When he takes me down, I wasn’t worried. Like ‘okay, take me down. I’m home.’ Brown belt, train jiu-jitsu every f*cking day.”
“I didn’t want to stand up, because if I stand up, he’d probably take me down again. I have a good defense, but I don’t want to expend energy defending a good wrestler’s takedown,” he continued. “I’m going to be at a disadvantage, you know? I don’t care, you’re going to be here on the floor. You take me down, okay what are you going to do?”
Walker was thrilled to have fans back at UFC 279, and he’s even more thrilled at the prospect of fighting as part of the promotion’s return to his native Brazil next year.
“I never fought in Rio. January 23 I think? It’s going to be an amazing date for me,” Walker exclaimed (the event is actually January 21, 2023). “Monday I’m back to the gym, training, I’m going to keep my high performance. Of course I don’t want to train really hard because I had a lot of time, but I want to keep myself in shape, and diet, and still commitment. I’m ready to come back in January.”
Watch the full UFC 279 post-fight press scrum with Johnny Walker above.