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.

Felice Herrig vs Michelle Waterson ‘10 Years In The Making – Fight Girls’


Originally posted on 6th October 2018

Michelle Waterson vs Felice Herrig
Michelle Waterson vs Felice Herrig

Tonight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Michelle Waterson and Felice Herrig will finally get the chance to meet in the centre of the octagon for their strawweight battle at UFC 229.

To some, this will be another showcase of the talented females in the strawweight division getting to show why women should be on the main card within the UFC, to others (like myself) this has been a fight 10 years in the making.

Back in 2007, an oxygen original tv show, similar in spirit to The Ultimate Fighter TV series had ten female fighters live together and train together with Muay Thai instructor – Master Toddy, in Las Vegas for six weeks to win a Muay Thai championship in Thailand.

Fight Girls cast picture
Fight Girls cast picture

The group of women were then narrowed down to five via a three-round fight between the housemates, the winners got to go to Thailand and the losing fighter was eliminated from the house and the competition.

Felice Herrig and Michelle Waterson were two of the original ten women to compete to try to go over to Thailand and were mentored by Lisa “The black widow” King, who was the original shows winner back in 2006, when there was a one-off documentary with seven female fighters and female Muay Thai & MMA legend Gina Carano.

Gina Cararo, Lisa kKng and Master Toddy
Gina Cararo, Lisa kKng and Master Toddy

Whilst Michelle lost her fight to get to go to Thailand, Felice won and set off to Thailand with the rest of the other four finalists, winning her fight in Thailand via TKO.
Felice went back to her kickboxing roots for a further two years before transitioning to MMA in 2009 where “The Lil Bulldog” had arrived.

Having competed for XFC, Bellator and Invicta, Felice was finally signed to The Ultimate Fighter season 20 in 2014.

Michelle transitioned to MMA in 2007 with help from Donald Cerrone at the time and “The Karate Hottie” competed at strawweight and atomweight in which she won the Invicta Atomweight Belt before being signed to the UFC in the strawweight division in 2015.

After Felice’s third win in a row against Justine Kish in 2017, she called out Michelle Waterson citing “she had already been offered the fight and accepted it, but it got taken away from her.”

With Felice Herrig being ranked #9 and Michelle Waterson being ranked #8 in the UFC fighter rankings and given both their shared history, this is one fight not to be missed.

The rise of the ‘Killa Bee’ 2.0 – Bryony Tyrell


Bryony Tyrell  - BELLATOR weigh-in - Credit: Bellator
Bryony Tyrell – Bellator weigh-In Credit: Bellator

 First released 21st June 2019

On Saturday, June 22nd, 2019, Bellator MMA will be making their return to the SSE Arena in London.

Making her debut for the promotion will be U.K’s Bryony Tyrell, and if you had told her six years ago that she would be on one of the world’s largest MMA promotions and competing in front of her home crowd, I’m pretty sure she’d be laughing at just the thought.

Born and raised in Sevenoaks, Kent, Bryony has always enjoyed the thrill and excitement of extreme sports; from BASE jumping, Bungee jumping, and sky diving, to testing herself in mixed martial arts.

Holding a Masters Degree in nursing and a Degree in Molecular Cell Biology, the critical care nurse now based in Southampton has always had a passion for martial arts.

Starting in Kickboxing and Kung Fu 19 years ago, Bryony quickly fell in love with all aspects of martial arts so much, that, she added in Krav Maga, Japanese jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai before finally concentrating on Wrestling and Brazilian Jiujitsu, forming the mixed martial arts career she has today.  “Martial arts are my passion in life.  I love the contrast that they can be beautiful and deadly at the same time” Bryony said. “Anyone that practices a martial art to a high level knows that it involves incredible dedication and discipline, and also pushes your body and mind to the limits of endurance.”

Originally part of U.K MMA pioneer (and ex UFC athlete) Rosi Sexton’s mentoring scheme, Bryony went about taking Rosi’s advice on training, nutrition, competing and training with Rosi. “I was very privileged to be on a mentorship scheme with Rosi. I gained invaluable advice at the beginning of my amateur career” said Bryony.

The 18th of May 2013 is a day that Bryony will forever have as a fond memory. It was when she made her amateur debut and found out exactly what she is capable of in the cage. “I think the only way to truly know how good you are at fighting is to compete. Being locked in a cage with another trained fighter who can use pretty much any style or technique against you is the ultimate test”,  Bryony said when recalling the first time she stepped into the cage.

Not only content with competing in amateur MMA bouts, but Bryony also tested her skills by competing in white-collar boxing bouts, Muay Thai bouts, and grappling matches to gain invaluable experience before turning pro in November 2015.

Holding a current professional record of 4 wins 3 losses and 1 draw, with all 3 of those losses coming from title fights with two of those athletes currently competing in the UFC and Bellator, Bryony is no stranger to adversity in the MMA industry.

Having started in her MMA career aged 33, Bryony was considered by some promotions and coaches to be ‘too old’ to be competing in the sport.  Once Bryony turned pro at the age of 35 and started to win, it was only then that she began to believe in herself more and knew that ‘age was just a number’.  At least, to her anyway, and she set about proving just that.

Having gone 4-3-1 in her pro career, taking short notice fights and a title fight in a weight class above her usual weight division, Bryony felt that her current gym, Exile, had let her down. “I felt like the industry had written me off for being too old, and some of the coaches at my gym had said I was too old and slow after I lost the Cage Warriors title fight against Molly McCann.  When they wrote me off because of that loss, I didn’t think that was fair.  It was quite demoralizing for me.  The whole experience was quite demoralizing, and I just stopped the enjoyment of the sport.

On top of that, Cage Warriors wouldn’t give me a fight at strawweight, and I felt I was not valued as a fighter, and not being given significant opportunities.  It just wasn’t worth the sacrifice anymore. So, I decided to retire in July 2018.”

Since retiring from competitive MMA, Bryony thought that she’d feel better because of the less stress involved and would have more time to spend with her husband and two children.  However, she felt like there was a massive hole in her life and felt very down, having nothing to work towards with the Adrenalin rush that she always knew she had.  “Having just a normal life is not good enough for me.  I know it is quite a selfish attitude to have especially the fact that I have got young children and an amazing husband and a stressful job.  I need that buzz to make me happy.”

Looking to replace that ‘buzz’ Bryony decided she would concentrate on achieving the top levels in grappling.  After taking home silver at the IBJFF and silver at the UK ADCC, she didn’t have the same drive for grappling as she did in MMA, stating that “I didn’t put 100% in because I just didn’t have that kind of fear factor that someone is going to smash your face in if you don’t train properly, and it wasn’t dangerous for me.”

On May 30th, 2019 it was officially announced that Bryony had come out of retirement and will be competing on the Bellator London card on June 22nd at the SSE Arena, where she will face the current kickboxing champion Denise Kielholtz in a flyweight MMA bout.  A fight that has been over a year in the making, as Bryony initially accepted a short notice (1 week) fight against Denise back in February 2018 but had to withdraw due to being medically suspended after her fight with Molly McCann.   It was suggested to Bryony that Denise wasn’t matched up for the London card and did she fancy another fight.  It was at that point that Bryony messaged her managers, who then contacted Bellator, and they came back with a yes straight away.

With ten weeks to prepare for the bout, Bryony went to Cross Face gym in Watford, training with head coach Dave Lee and Charlie Leary who is also on the London card. For the final two weeks of her training camp, Bryony flew out to Thailand to train at UFC athlete Johnny Walker and Leo Gosling’s new gym Chokchai Muay Thai. “While Johnny and Leo were here in Southampton, I trained with them, so it made sense for me to go out and spend two weeks over at there new gym in Thailand.  They have a few UFC athletes training there, and Jorge Kanella who is also on the London card.  Being surrounded by world-class coaches and fighters, this fight camp has been on a different level to any other I’ve had.  They treat me as an equal, and I’m keeping up with these guys who are top-level pro fighters, so it’s been a massive confidence boost to come back to fighting after people had written you off.  I’ve got some amazing people around me that believe in me, and I know I can win this fight.”

With the advantage of having 16 MMA fights compared to Denise’s 4 MMA fights, and factoring in that Denise is Bellator’s kickboxing champion and has had numerous kickboxing bouts,  Bryony realises that Denise is a superb striker,  having watched a lot of her fights just purely to learn from her and improve her own striking.  She is also a classy athlete and represents the sport incredibly well.

Feeling that this is a good match-up and an opportunity Bryony had been asking for throughout her MMA career, she now thinks that having dedicated her life to MMA and competing for the last five years, come June 22nd it will have paid off.

With the fact that Denise is a world champion kick-boxer, Bryony knows that it is unrealistic to think she could beat a multiple world champion striker on her feet, and therefore feels Denise will probably think that Bryony will want to get her to the ground as that is where she tends to do best.  “She will be physically stronger than me and be powerful so it will be down to see who can implement their fight game, as always in MMA.

“It’s going to be a fair fight as we both have had a good preparation for this bout.  I think I am probably going in there as the underdog and that’s fine with me as that’s normal, but the nice thing for me is she may well be a top striker in Bellator and the promotion, but we are fighting in London in front of my home crowd,  which is nice for me because it’s rare that I get to fight  in front of a home crowd.  It is going to be amazing to have support there, and I’m also fighting on the same card as good friends of mine, Kate Jackson, Charlie Leary and Jorge Kanella, and Johnny and Leo are also going to be there.  It is going to be amazing.”

Aiming for a submission win, Bryony has one last thing to say.  “Last year my fire went out, this year it’s back with a vengeance! I am incredibly honoured and grateful for this opportunity on the world stage against such an impressive opponent. I got written off as a fighter.  This year, I’m training alongside Bellator and UFC athletes treated as equal. Don’t let anyone crush your dreams if you surround yourself with the right people you will succeed!”

Last Chance to Apply for IMMAF Pan American Championships of Amateur MMA


Don’t miss out on the last opportunity to apply for the IMMAF Pan American Championships of Amateur MMA. Apply here: http://bit.ly/1CIwnUR

Due to challenges posed by local authorities, the event was recently moved back to 24th to 26th April in Toronto. The Canadian Combat Alliance has carried out incredible work to enable the event to go ahead.

The “Pan American AMMA Championships” will follow a tournament format and the event includes open contests for Amateur Mixed Martial Arts, youth and adult submission grappling, adult Brazilian jiu jitsu and karate. In addition, fans can enjoy traditional Muay Thai and kickboxing matches featured at the event.

IMMAF Pan American Championships of Amateur MMA
IMMAF Pan American Championships of Amateur MMA

The Amateur MMA competition spans a three day period and is open to attendance from Pan American Nations. Amateur MMA competitors eliminated in the preliminaries on 24th April may participate in the BJJ or Muay Thai Championships on Saturday 25th April; and Amateur MMA Competitors eliminated on 24th April or 25th April may participate in the ISSGF Submission Grappling or Kickboxing Championships on 26th April.  Finals for the IMMAF Pan American Championships of Amateur MMA will take place on Sunday evening (26th April) in the form of a carded show.

The contests are open invitationals, so that non-member countries from the American continents are welcomed to discover IMMAF and its worldwide Amateur MMA movement. Individual athletes from the American continent are also warmly invited to apply.

  • Now taking place on 24th to 26th April in Toronto
  • Open Invitational Tournament. Apply here: http://bit.ly/1CIwnUR

The event launches IMMAF’s wider global program of Amateur MMA competitions. The Americas have been pivotal in the evolution of the sport of MMA. The region is also renowned for producing high calibre talent, which will make this first annual tournament particularly compelling ahead of the 2015 IMMAF World Championships in July.

The IMMAF Pan Americans will also see the piloting of the www.splitdraw.com tournament management system that will be used for the 2015 IMMAF World Championships at UFC® International Fight Week in Las Vegas in July.

IMMAF CEO Densign White said:

“The Canadian Combat Alliance has managed to keep faith and worked incredibly hard to make this inaugural event happen in spite of great obstacles. We hope that this event will be the first of many more to come over the years, as the IMMAF family expands its footprint in the Americas. We encourage all MMA athletes that are able to, to make the journey to support this historical event by taking part.”

IMMAF Pan American Championships of Amateur MMA
IMMAF Pan American Championships of Amateur MMA

To register for the IMMAF Pan American AMMA Championships, please visit: http://www.panamma.com/index.php/registration2
For information about the Canadian Combat Alliance visit:http://www.canadiancombat.com/
For information about the United States Mixed Martial Arts Federation (UMMAF) visit: http://usammakif.org/

‘FAST AND FURIOUS’ – GINA CARANO


A female that needs no introduction in the world of mixed martial arts.

Here is a montage of Gina’s eight fights all finished by strikes.

Video Credit: Deadly Strikes