Exclusive: “I’m going to win the light heavyweight belt, and then I will move up and win the heavyweight belt” – Johnny Walker


Johnny Walker Credit:Fighters Only
Johnny Walker Credit: Fighters Only

 

Originally posted on 30th October 2019

The 14th December 2013 is a date that will be forever ingrained in Johnny Walker’s brain.  It was that day that Johnny had his first-ever professional mixed martial arts contest at the age of 22, in the heavyweight division. Having had no previous amateur fights, the fight only lasted :49 seconds in round one and Johnny won via TKO, something that he would be doing later throughout his career thus far.

Johnny fought another ten times at heavyweight in Brazil with a combined record of 8-3 before moving down to Light Heavyweight in March 2017, where he had another two fights before relocating to Aberdeen in Scotland in December 2017 for a year.

Johnny had grown up in Brazil all his life, until at the age of 25, he moved across the world to Aberdeen, for an exciting opportunity to help further his MMA career on a global scale.

It was, in fact, Johnny’s coach Leo Gosling who got a proposal/job offer from a businessman in Aberdeen, to go and teach classes in mixed martial arts. Leo stated he would only accept the invite if it included bringing Johnny over too.   When Leo and Johnny arrived, they soon realised that it was all a big lie and that the gym owner was broke, which resulted in Leo and Johnny receiving no payment.

These were tough times for Leo and Johnny having travelled from Brazil to Scotland, and now, having no money to live on, their only option was to sleep on gym floors.  However, both Leo and Johnny stayed positive and focused on the bigger picture, and Leo managed to get Johnny 3 fights in a month, which not only started to make a name for Johnny on the UK MMA scene (Johnny won the UCMMA light heavyweight title, Feb 2018) but also gave them the much-needed money to survive and progress in the MMA scene.

It wasn’t long after Johnny won his next three fights that he decided to try out for season 2 of ‘Dana White’s contender series in Brazil’ which was held on August 11th, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This was Johnny’s chance to prove to Dana White that after all the hard work he had put in since 2013, he belonged in the world’s number one promotion. The ‘UFC’.

On Fight Night, Johnny was scheduled to meet Henrique da Silva and was looking forward to showcasing his skills. However, during his warm-up Johnny was physically sick and had a fever.  He also got tired within three minutes of warming up, so he chose to stop and conserve his energy for the bout against Henrique.

Johnny went the whole three rounds with Henrique, in which he won every round on the scorecards.  This was the only fight thus far that Johnny had left it in the hands of the judges. He won via unanimous decision. “It was a great experience even though I was sick, and I couldn’t make it my best performance,” Johnny said afterwards. “It was the first time that any of my fights have gone to the judges’ scorecards”.

That performance impressed Dana White so much that he rewarded Johnny with a UFC contract.

After that victory, Johnny moved to Southampton, England to train with his coach Leo Gosling, where he met female UK fighter and mum of two Bryony Tyrell.  At the time, Bryony part-owned Exile MMA Central, Southampton, and later went on to train with Leo and Johnny in Thailand at Johnny’s gym called ‘Walker MMA’, while preparing for her Bellator debut on 22nd June 2019.  They formed a great bond with each other that still exists today.

Born Walker Johnny Barra Silva de Souza on March 30th, 1992 in Tingua, Rio de Janeiro, Johnny, his brother Valter and his parents, relocated to Rio das Ostras when he was a teenager, where he lived until he was 25 years old.

Rio das Ostras was a cool place to grow up. The city used to be very safe back then.  Johnny would frequently go play out in the street or visit the beach a lot.  Unfortunately, as with many children today, some of the kids at school were mean, and for a while, Johnny got bullied for being so tall and skinny.

At 15 years old, Johnny took up one of his first loves, dancing, RIP rop, and Lamaerobica, (which is a Brazilian style of dance), — gradually moving onto lifting weights.  Then he moved onto Muay Thai, which he fell in love with after his first lesson.

After leaving school, Johnny started studying Chemistry Engineering but decided that he wanted to follow his dream of becoming a world champion mixed martial arts athlete. After being introduced to Leo Gosling at Leo’s gym, Johnny was offered a scholarship to train in Brazilian Jiujitsu, and Leo invited Johnny to train in MMA as well.

With the mentorship of Leo fully formed, and an incredible bond, even when Leo went to London for a year, Johnny trained at Team Evolucao in the South of Brazil. They then reunited to carry on with their close coach/manager bond that they established.

Starting his MMA career off in the heavyweight division, Johnny knew that weight class was not for him. So, he dropped down to light heavyweight, where the 6ft 5 Brazilian has found great success in the 205lb weight class.

Since being signed to the UFC in 2018, Johnny has had three fights with all of them ending with a first-round win, and a total combined time of 2 minutes 48 seconds in the octagon, gaining three “fight of the night” bonuses while in the process. “Starting my career in the heavyweight division and now in the light heavyweight division, I’m going to win the light heavyweight belt. Then, I will move up and win the heavyweight belt” stated Johnny while we were on the subject on whether he will make a return to the heavyweight division.

If you’re familiar with Johnny Walker, then you will know that after every win in the octagon, Johnny, celebrates by doing a version of what he calls ‘the worm’. However, the last time Johnny did his celebratory ‘worm’, he dislocated his shoulder just before having his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.  He then had to have surgery, and this kept him out of competitive action for four months while his shoulder was healing.

“My shoulder is 100% recovered now. I had surgery and have been rehabbing it, and I’m good to go.  I will have to look for a new celebration to do when I win as my mum won’t let me do ‘The Worm’ anymore lol,” Johnny says laughing.

Having had six months out of the octagon to rehab his shoulder injury, it has given Johnny plenty of time to spend time with his two dog’s – Pitbull’s named ‘Yoga’, who is the female, and ‘Tanus’, the male.  This has given them plenty of time to go down to the beach to chill as well as playing video games.  Which at the moment is ‘Call of Duty 4’ online.  “I haven’t had time to play the new Call of Duty Modern Warfare yet!”. As well as visiting other gyms to get some more experience, as you can never have enough skills, Johnny has recently come back from spending three weeks at SBG Ireland.

Johnny (17-3), ranked #11 will be facing Corey Anderson (12-4), ranked #7, (according to UFC rankings) on Saturday, November 2nd at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY, at UFC 244.

Looking at these two athletes on paper the only similarities (which are small) is that Johnny is 6ft 5 inches and has an 82-inch reach, whereas Anderson is 6ft 3 inches and has a 79-inch reach.

Anderson is on a three-fight winning streak, all coming by way of decision. In fact, all his fights bar 4 have come by leaving it in the hands of the judges. On the other hand, Johnny is on a nine-fight winning streak, with only one of those wins coming by way of decision back in 2016.  That is the only one so far on his overall career record. The rest of his wins have come by way of T/KO and two submissions, with all of those T/KO’s happened in the first round one and one coming in the second round.

With a win over Corey Anderson on Saturday, November 2nd, it should put him in the top #6 of the light heavyweight division.  The question everyone will be asking is, who is next for him? Will he be in title contention to fight the current champion Jon Jones?, Or will it be someone in the top 5? “I’m not bothered by who my next opponent is, I want to fight as soon as possible, within three weeks would be ideal, in Washington, DC, on 7th December.  If not then, then UFC 245 in Vegas on 14th December.”

UFC 244 takes place on Saturday, November 2nd, live from Madison Square Garden, New York, NY.

MCGEARY SET TO MAKE MMA HISTORY AT BELLATOR 134: BRITISH INVASION


 

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Liam McGeary is set to become the first Brit ever to claim a major MMA world championship as he challenges Emanuel Newton for the Bellator light heavyweight world title in Conneticut, USA, this month on February 27th at Bellator 134: McGeary vs Newton will go down at the Mohegan Sun arena in Coneticut topping a bill stacked with British fighters, aptly named ‘British invasion’.

British banger McGeary, originally from Andover, started his martial arts career in the channel island of Jersey and now fights out of Renzo Gracie’s MMA academy in New York.  Should he win, he will be the first British fighter to claim a major world title in the sport in what would be only his tenth professional fight.

Undefeated at 9-0 (6-0 Bellator) with all of his Bellator wins coming inside the first round, he is widely touted as the man to take the strap from the significantly more experienced Newton (25-7-1) who holds notable wins over ‘King Mo’ Lawal, Attila Veigh and Joey Beltran.

McGeary is yet to see the second round since signing with Bellator, boasting two submissions and four knockouts, with the average time it takes him to dispatch his opponents coming in at under 2 minutes.

He blew through Bellator’s Light Heavyweight tournament and earned himself a shot at the gold by defeating American Top Team product Kelly ‘Crossface’ Anundson in the final via spectacular inverted triangle, a move which earned him Inside MMA’s ‘Submission of the Year’ award.

Last month all the British fighters on the card, which McGeary is headlining, converged at the Channel 5 television studios in London to promote the event and answer questions from the national MMA press….

“I really don’t know how he’s going to back that one up” said McGeary when told that Newton dismissed him as a worthy challenger and stated that he refuses to be beaten by a Brit. “I am going to beat him up everywhere, I won’t let any chances slip and the belt is coming back to Britain – I just can’t wait (until February 27th) to stop having the fight in my head and have it for real!”.

When asked about the ‘British Invasion’ event and fighting alongside his countrymen Paul Daley, Linton Vassell, Michael Page and James Thompson, McGeary stated – “It’s an honour to represent my country alongside these guys – On February 27th we are gonna show these yanks just what us Brits can do!”

‘British Invasion’ goes down at the Mohegan Sun arena in Uncasville, CT, USA, February 27th and the world’s MMA press will be on hand to see if McGeary can overthrow Newton in his backyard and bring the belt back to British shores.

[Press Release]