Interview with Johnny Walker above
UFC light heavyweight contender Johnny Walker is coming off a big win over Ryan Spann back in September but because of the coronavirus pandemic, Walker has been unable to return to Ireland where he has been training. Now number nine in the official UFC light heavyweight rankings, Walker is on the cusp of making a run for the title. He sat down with me for a chat about his training situation and why he has yet to make it back to Ireland.
“Because of COVID,” Walker explained. “The gym there, I booked my flight back like one month ago and I couldn’t make it. My coach said, stay in Vegas and use the performance institute for one month and do your strength and conditioning over there. The day I was going to leave, after one month I missed my flight, and the next day my coach just sent the message that he was going to close until December 1. I said ok, I can stay, I have a friend’s house to stay and I have gyms to train and everything so I figured out a way that I can be here and keep training hard.”
Being in Las Vegas, the epicenter of all UFC operations does have its advantages. Using the UFC PI is one of them, but being close to the UFC APEX where all the domestic events are taking place could be another advantage. However, filling in on short notice isn’t on Walker’s radar at the moment.
“Now I have to be smart because my career is doing really well,” Walker said. “I just have to be really smart to my next step because two more fights I can go to the title shot. I’m not in a rush anymore, I just have to do the smart moves.”
When asked if there was a fight lined up, Walker said no, but the offers are rolling in. Not sure about a return date yet but he mentioned February would be ideal.
“I don’t know yet,” Walker said. “I have to talk to my manager and my coach. The UFC offered me some fights so I have to just think about it and reply to them soon.”
The state of the division is something else to keep in mind. In the last few m0nths, champion Jon Jones has relinquished his title in hopes of moving up to a heavyweight title shot. There has also a new champion in Jan Blachowicz, who may be facing middleweight champion Israel Adesanya next. Walker spoke about this in the interview.
“Dana White wants to move Adesanya up to face Blachowicz,” Walker said. “I don’t think it is really fair because Glover is the number one contender now and he should fight for the belt but the UFC wants to make big fights. Everyone wants the chance to do something big like Jones wants to go to the heavyweight title shot, but Francis Ngannou is on the line. So many things going on and I just have to think about my career and my next steps.”
There is no doubt that Johnny Walker is one of the most talented 205ers on the UFC roster. 2021 could be the year that he finally gets his title shot. Hopefully, the return to training will be fluent and one of the UFC’s offers will be signed, and Walker will be back to action and on his way up the rankings.