Following an extremely impressive showing during an appearance on Dana White's Contender series, light-heavyweight prospect Johnny Walker was signed to the promotion and made an instant impression on MMA fans. The dynamic 205lber went 3-0 within the first six months of his UFC caReer, winning three bonus of the night awards in the process.
A loss in hist most recent fight against Corey Anderson at UFC 244 put a brief pause to his momentum, but the entertaining Brazilian has switched things up following that fight and is looking to show the new and improved version of himself n front of his county men and women in Brasilia, Brazil.
We spoke to the 27-year old to find out about his new surroundings in Canada, working with famous MMA coach, Firas Zahabi and who he thought won the 205lb title fight between Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes.
You've got a big fight coming up this weekend with Nikita Krylov and you've made a lot of changes behind the scenes since your last fight. What have you been doing differently since that last fight?
"Yeah, I've made so many changes. I changed my management, I changed my coach. Honestly, every thing that has happened is because of my girlfriend. I need to thank her a lot because she helped me a lot. She put my mind at ease, you know. "
Firas Zahabi was on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast and mentioned that he would love to work with you. Soon after, you were up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada training at Tristar Gym. What's that experience been like for you so far?
"It's been really good. Firas is a really good coach and he gives me so much attention. He treats me so good because he's always helping me with something. He's giving me advice with my strength and conditioning, he'll tell me when to spar, when to have a massage and even when to have an ice bath.
"He's also a really smart coach. He's been helping me with my game-plan and working with me on my guard and other positions that are along the cage. I just really appreciate his help and he's a really great coach."
There are a lot of experience fighters training at Tristar and you're still quite young in your career still. Have you managed to speak to the likes of Georges St. Pierre or Rory Macdonald and pick their brains about the fight game?
"I've just been speaking with Georges. We actually speak a lot and some times we'll go to places together. He's also helped me with positions, specifically up against the cage. He's always got good advice and he's been a really nice guy to me."
You've got a really interesting stylistic match-up in Nikita Krylov who, like yourself, is always looking for the finish. Is he someone that's been on your radar for awhile?
"Absolutely. Look, he's a really good fighter and those are the type of fighters I want to face. I want to become the best version of me and if I want that, I need to fight against the best. I'm really happy with this match and I'm just so excited.
You know, I've trained so hard for this fight. I've trained so hard here at Tristar gym and working with guys who are at an elite level. I've been working with a judo guy and a guy called Mustapha who is a wrestler. They've really helped me a lot since I've been here.
"I've also been working with some K-1 kickboxing guys too. I've trained so hard and now that I want to check my skills. I want to test my heart, my conditioning. I want to see how much I've improved and this fight is going to help me see every thing.
One last question before we let you go, we assume you watched the title fight between Jones and Reyes as you could be facing either one of them in the future. Who did you have winning the fight?
"i really liked both men performances, but in my opinion, Jon Jones won the fight. He's been the champion for so long, so for someone to beat him for three rounds, then run for two rounds and then get his belt. If you want to win the title by points, you've got to beat the champion for all five rounds. The only other options are to knock him out or submit him. It has to be definitive."
Thanks for speaking to Johnny. Anything you'd like to leave us with?
"Thanks for all the support and follow me on Instagram @johnnywalker."