After a successful audition on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018, an unknown Johnny Walker was handed a UFC contract. Since then, he has captivated fans with his actions both inside and outside the Octagon. He returns against Nikita Kyrlov at UFC Brasilia, and here’s why we’re all excited.
Walker has been nothing short of spectacular in his three UFC victories. His dispatches of Khalil Rountree, Justin Ledet and Misha Cirkunov have taken him a combined 2 minutes and 48 seconds. Furthermore, he is ending these contests in entertaining fashion. His victories have come by way of an elbow, spinning backfist and a flying knee. These consistent flashy, ostentatious finishes have built the hype train that is Johnny Walker.
Walker’s post-fight interviews and interactions have also garnered fan interest. His eccentric and wacky personality make him easily likable amongst fans. The goofy antics are humorous and further elevate his stock.
Corey Anderson Defeat
After a 3-0 start to his UFC career, Walker succumbed to his first loss in the UFC at the hands of Corey Anderson at UFC 244. This was seen as a possible major setback, with the bout pivotal in outlining a light heavyweight contender. Consequently, Anderson was rewarded with a potential title eliminator bout. With light heavyweight contendership seeming wide open, this was Walker’s chance to explode into contention.
The aftermath of the humbling defeat led to him blasting his coach whom he blamed for the loss. This resulted in Walker taking his talents to Montreal with Tristar Gym. With Anderson exposing wrestling holes in his game, Firas Zahabi could be the perfect fit to amend and polish these weaknesses.
Can he defeat Jon Jones?
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has shown vulnerability in his last two outings. His narrow wins over Thiago Santos and Dominick Reyes have seen the challengers land significant strikes and narrowly miss out on the gold. With Walker’s power and unpredictability, these are positive signs.
Walker’s greatest asset in a bout with Jones however would be his physical attributes. Walker stands at 6’5″ tall with a reach of 82″. Jones is notorious for using his length and reach to his advantage, and nobody will come closer to equalling that than Walker. An inch taller whilst only giving up two in the reach department, this presents a unique problem for Jones.
UFC Brasilia Implications
A fight with Jones is intriguing, but Walker has a date with Ukrainian Nikita Krylov at UFC Brasilia first. Whilst a win would most likely be insufficient to warrant a title shot, it would catapult Walker back into contention.
It appears Jones may be set for a rematch with Dominick Reyes, but with Walker taking strides by teaming up with a reputable trainer in Firas Zahabi, a win over Krylov would take him one step closer to a potential compelling, fan-friendly matchup with the champion.
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