We all know the likes of former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, welterweight James Krause and surging light heavyweight Anthony “Lionheart” Smith, but what most might not know is the driving force for all four of these fighters and many others behind the scenes.
That driving force goes by the name Jim Walter, and if you pay attention to social media, you’ll see Walter with any of the fighters previously mentioned as well as all the other fighters he works with. Walter, who has a gym in Chicago, Mission MMA, isn’t your typical manager and that’s what makes him truly special.
The story could stop and end with his involvement in Mission MMA as a coach and as a leader, but it’s his caring personality that plays a major role in the gym’s success. While there are managers and coaches who only get into the sport for their own personal financial and competitive gain, Walter puts everyone he works with in front of himself.
He’s not a guy who will just get his clients a fight and then sit on the side and let them do all the work. Jim Walter will be on the mat with his fighters training with them, or coaching them with his own knowledge of the sport. Even more, Walter puts a lot of emphasis on getting the most out of every opportunity for his fighters whether it be inside or outside the cage. From sponsorships and training to just overall support, no client goes without under him.
Unlike most in the sport, Walter sticks behind the scenes and doesn’t make the careers of his fighters about himself. He doesn’t ride the coattails of anyone as he truly molds himself through hard work and respect. It’s easy for managers, coaches, and fans of fighters to turn and look the other way when the going gets tough, but Walter has plenty of upcoming opportunities that will allow for resurgence for some of his fighters.
Turning to the former heavyweight champion Miocic, it’s never felt like he fell off the map following his loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 226. There are many former champions who lose their title and then fall down the ladder immediately and when everyone begins to look the other way, the climb back to the top becomes even more difficult. For Walter and Miocic, they were pushed by the opportunity to quickly regain the heavyweight title and cement himself as one of, if not, the greatest heavyweight of all-time. Instead of going back to the drawing board and trying to map out a way to climb back up the ladder, Walter stood at the top and never allowed Miocic to fall behind.
With the return of Chris Weidman right around the corner at UFC 230, Walter will once again be behind the push of a former champion in a division look for some clarity. A win over Jacare Souza at Madison Square Garden will more than likely lock-up a middleweight title fight.
James Krause has had plenty of success both inside the lightweight and welterweight division, and although his name won’t be in discussions for title discussions, that doesn’t stop Walter from having Krause host seminars. Even without a title picture in the immediate future, Jim Walter can be found in the training room with Krause, warming up backstage with Krause, and in his corner when it’s his time to fight.
Then there’s the story of Anthony “Lionheart” Smith who will take on Volkan Oezdemir in the main event at UFC Fight Night 138 in Moncton, Canada and if there’s one thing a manager can be credited for, it’s fully supporting his fighter’s decision. When Smith was ready to make the jump up from middleweight to light heavyweight, not only did Walter support him, he pushed it. That supporting confidence in making the move to light heavyweight has without a doubt been a motivator for Smith who is on the brink of making some serious noise inside his new division.
Jim Walter doesn’t live the most relaxing life as he’s always working and traveling, but maybe it’s those behind the scenes like him, who deserve more praise than they get. It’s easy to get behind fighters after their performances in the cage, but Walter’s work never stops, and come Saturday night in Moncton, Canada, not many will know who is partially responsible for the surge of Anthony Smith.
He works with many fighters that range from UFC champions to young professionals just getting started, and while he may never be standing in front of the spotlight, Jim Walter deserves his own moment in it.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
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