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Johnny Walker: The most exhilarating man in MMA explains why he’s ready to face Jon Jones right now

first_imgJoin DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearWalker first stole the spotlight during the pay-per-view event’s Media Day by rocking suspenders and a bowtie. For the weigh-in, Walker hopped up the stairs on one foot, before flexing like Hulk Hogan on the scale and giving Misha Cirkunov a zany, bugged-eyed smile during the staredown.Then, on the fight night itself, Walker danced all the way to the Octagon and gyrated his hips while the referee performed a protocol patdown for a fighter. And once his fight actually started, Walker’s exploits were equally flashy, as he detonated a flying knee — think Sagat from Street Fighter — onto Cirkunov, before pounding him out with hammerfists to record his latest spectacular knockout. ARE YOU KIDDING ME JOHNNY [email protected] #UFC235 pic.twitter.com/PkrgEuerKZ— UFC (@ufc) March 3, 2019 But after 36 seconds of light work, Walker stood his six-foot-five frame tall, saluted to the crowd and viewers at home and celebrated by doing the worm. But before he could flail like a fish out of water, Walker injured and dislocated his left shoulder. Now, surely that was enough to derail the 26-year-old’s party train and make him think twice about celebrating like that ever again, right? Well, no, not quite.Walker proceeded to fist pump with his right hand, instead, while walking back to the locker room after the victory, stopping to take photos with fans at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas without missing a beat. A dislocated arm won’t stop @Johnnywalkermma from dancing #UFC235 pic.twitter.com/BhMk0B3Zro— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 3, 2019 When asked whether his in-celebration injury taught him a lesson, Walker responded in typical Walker fashion.“I learned that only Johnny Walker can hurt Johnny Walker,” he told Sporting News over the phone after finishing a recent training session in Thailand, where he lives and hones his skills with the Imperio Fight team. “I do whatever I feel in the moment.”That being said, Walker’s shoulder is OK, as he makes sure that he’s fully healed.Coming off of “Dana White’s Contender Series,” Walker has gone 3-0 in the UFC, with his three wins clocking a grand total of two minutes and 48 seconds; one first-round finish seemingly more scintillating than the last. There was the elbow that slept Khalil Rountree, the spinning backfist that obliterated Justin Ledet and the flying knee he used to finish Cirkunov — all coming in the span of fewer than four months, with the latest leaving some of his peers awestruck. What is this Johnny Walker guy made of?! UNREAL BOOK OF HIGHLIGHTS!! #UFC235— Aljamain Sterling (@FunkMaster_UFC) March 3, 2019 God dammmm.Johnny Walker is the real deal holy field people. 👏🏻👏🏻 #UFC235— Megan Anderson (@MeganA_mma) March 3, 2019 That, and Walker is almost in awe of himself.“I’m so happy. It has been crazy,” Walker spouted. “I don’t know what else to say, but Johnny Walker is coming.”All this being said, those jaw-dropping knockouts combined with his effusive, playful personality have also put the most exhilarating man in MMA on the radar of light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.“Johnny Walker is somebody that I’m very aware of,” Jones told a pool of reporters ahead of his destruction of Anthony Smith at the same UFC 235. “I know I’m gonna be fighting him sooner or later and I just appreciate his energy. He seems like a nice guy.”Having caught the attention of Jones so quickly has Walker’s already-growing confidence ballooning that much more.“It means I have a very good start because they shouldn’t know my name, they shouldn’t know me [yet],” Walker said. “I have to train harder than I trained before to beat him one day.”When Jones first made his comments late last month, Walker told TMZ Sports that he’s not scared of the light heavyweight ruler and arguably the GOAT in MMA. And Walker not only doubled-down on those comments, but expounded on them when speaking with Sporting News.“I’m a different one. I’m new generation. I have something different from other fighters,” Walker said, his confidence brimming. “I know I can do more than this and I know I can give him a tougher fight as well. He never … he doesn’t have hard fights. I can give him a hard fight. I’m ready for him.”On paper, there’s intrigue seeped into their tale of the tape, with Walker standing 6-5 with an 82-inch reach to Jones’ 6-4 frame and 84.5-inch reach. But, of course, other fighters feel that they’re ready for Jones too. Immediately following Jones’ victory over Smith, White told the media that he’d love to see the light heavyweight champion face Thiago Santos next. Dominick Reyes, who like Walker is also undefeated in the UFC, has also been vocal about being ready to test his skills against Jones … and soon.Walker said he’s willing to fight Reyes to decide who would challenge Jones next, before adding that “The Devastator” isn’t quite ready for “Bones.”“Of course [I’d be interested in a fight against him],” Walker said about Reyes.“I think he’s not ready because he needs three rounds to beat Volkan [Oezdemir],” he added, referring to Reyes’ three-round decision win at UFC London on March 16. “I don’t need three rounds to beat nobody. It’s not enough to beat Jon Jones. I can show him who’s ready for Jon Jones. I can show him.” As Walker alluded to, he has never needed three rounds to defeat anyone in each of his three official UFC bouts — let alone, even the second minute of the first round. And he has finished all his UFC fights in the standup game. While the dynamic striking is definitely there, one would figure that Walker’s ground game would need to be sharp enough to solve Jones in the Octagon as well. Although it has gone untested in the UFC thus far, the Brazilian feels confident about that aspect of his fighting repertoire as well.“Man, I’m a brown belt in jiu-jitsu,” he said. “I love jiu-jitsu, I know it. I train more jiu jitsu and more wrestling than muay thai.”And then came the following head-scratching boast served on a silver platter as food for thought.“My ground game is better than my standup game,” he asserted defiantly. “Nobody even gives me a chance to show. I have many, many weapons to show everybody, but I don’t know how to use [them] because I finish the fights with my weak game — my standup game.”You read right. Despite eviscerating three opponents in less than three minutes combined, Walker claims his standup is his “weak game.” Let that soak in and register for a moment.If he gets that coveted shot against Jones, it’s likely that “Bones” will make him fight that bluster into existence. As hard-pressed as that task would be, Walker has managed to surprise himself over how quickly he has been able to take the UFC by storm, letting him know anything’s possible.It has all happened so fast. From humble beginnings in Brazil, Walker says three KOs in Europe last year set fire to his name and career.“I beat some guy in London, then I beat some guy in Southampton, then I beat some other guy in Belgium, then I got two belts, then I got to first place in my division and then Dana White knows my name,” Walker said of his blazing path to the UFC after defeating Stuart Austin, Jedrzej Mackowiak and Cheick Kone, respectively, under three different MMA promotional banners. He then earned a decision over Henrique da Silva on the Contender Series last August, before trickling off the three knockouts in the UFC. Now, with his stock soaring, Walker is open to everything his booming stardom brings — including a sponsorship, with just the apt brand in mind.“Oh, Johnnie Walker, the whiskey — I hope,” he said. “If they want to sponsor me, of course I’m free. My coach tried to contact them, but they didn’t reply. I don’t know why. If you can help me, I would appreciate.” (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/48/97/jon-jones_1olvlqnc8s74u11raoy1qo7ev5.jpg?t=-1325910511&w=500&quality=80 Johnny Walker’s electric fun train doesn’t make stops.Case in point: UFC 235 earlier this month, when the Brazilian phenom of a light heavyweight made sure to get the party started well before he stepped foot into the confines of the Octagon. Walker adds a couple more spectacular finishes to his ledger and lands a title shot against Jones and perhaps his cell will ring with Johnnie Walker and others interested in sponsoring the personable fighter.Until then, the most exhilarating man in MMA and his party train continues.“I can’t believe I can go so far [this quickly], but I believe,” Walker said. “I can believe now that I can go more than this. This is only the beginning.”last_img

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