Johnny Walker is tired of waiting. In fact, he’s so eager to return he’s picking fights at both light heavyweight and heavyweight.
The Brazilian 205-pounder impressed the MMA world with three spectacular knockouts in less than four months, stopping Khalil Rountree, Justin Ledet and Misha Cirkunov in a combined time of 2:48 before injuring his shoulder during his post-fight celebration.
Walker was targeting a return to the Octagon around September, but wants to “beat someone up” as soon as possible.
“My target is the champion, so I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me, it doesn’t matter,” Walker said. “I don’t have a preference. I have to get past someone to get (to the belt), so I don’t care. Whoever they bring, it’s fine."
“I don’t want to sound cocky, but my goal is way bigger than this. People will say I’m cocky, that I’m talking about beating everyone up. Man, my goal is to be champion so I have to beat these guys up first.”
Jon Jones is Walker’s target in the light heavyweight division right now. “Bones” successfully defended his UFC belt with a split decision win over Thiago Santos at UFC 239 in Las Vegas on July 6. Walker was in attendance that night, and doesn’t think Jones performed at his best in the cage.
“I think he can do much better than that,” Walker said. “He definitely has to do more against me, otherwise I’ll knock him out in the first round.”
“I think ‘Marreta’ was a great challenge,” he continued, “But ‘Marreta’ got hurt in the first round. Jones is the champion and would obviously win if it went to the scorecards, so I think he took his foot off the gas and the fight went the way you saw.”
Walker scored the contest for Jones watching it live at the T-Mobile Arena, but, in the end, all he could think was getting inside that Octagon with him.
“I thought about jumping in there and challenging him,” Walker said with a laugh, “But there were so many cops in every corner of that Octagon.”
If Jones fights that way against Walker “he would only last one round,” the Brazilian said, “But he won’t fight that way. I know he’s capable of five rounds of action with me. It will be the best fight of the year. It’s up to him, though. I’m 100 percent ready.”
Days after his win over Santos, Jones went on social media and asked fans who should he “scrap” next. When a fan mentioned Walker’s name, Jones didn’t think it was a good idea.
"You guys want me to fight someone who is unknown to the general public and hasn’t even fought a top 10 opponent yet? Think about it. Besides if I beat him in December, what would everyone have to look forward to?"
“Well, he’s right,” Walker said. “I still haven’t done much (in the UFC). But there aren’t many guys who would give me a big challenge. I don’t have to beat a top 5. People talk too much crap, man. People say I don’t have jiu-jitsu, I don’t have wrestling. They say I have to fight a wrestler. The last wrestler I fought lasted five seconds. I’m ready for him and I know I’d be a big challenge. I think he’s afraid to lose to an unknown guy.”
If the Jones fight doesn’t happen any time soon — and the UFC can’t find a light heavyweight willing to share the cage with Walker —, the Brazilian is open to moving up to heavyweight to test his hands against one of the most feared fighters in MMA today.
“I’d like to impress the fans by beating Francis Ngannou. He’s a machine,” Walker said. “He impressed so many people with his punching power, the way he finishes his fights. People is scared to fight him. I’m not scared to fight him. We have the same punching power. I did the test at the UFC Performance Institute. I was coming off a surgery and almost did the same number he did, so I have the same power or even more. I can definitely defeat him.”
“I think I’ll have to fight two more times before fighting (Jones), so I’ll get things going in any division,” he continued. “If they need a fight at heavyweight, I’m in. I don’t choose opponents. I’ll fight anyone. I don’t care if it’s a top 10, a top 20, a top 2. It’s just a regular human being that will get beat up the same way.”
Walker’s goal for the future is clear: he wants to follow Daniel Cormier’s path towards double gold in the UFC.
“It will happen. That’s my plan,” Walker said.
“I want two belts. It’s not ‘if’, it’s ‘when’. I came here to make history. This is what I do for a living. I chose to do this for a living. If I was an engineer or a Formula 1 driver I’d want to be the No. 1. I’m a fighter, and I want to be the greatest of all-time.”