Johnny Walker says he’s altering his fight scheme, but not his brash style

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The exuberant walkouts. The over-the-top post-fight celebrations. The hip gyrating at weigh-ins. Pretending to slip on the stage at media day.

The histrionics that made Johnny Walker one of the most popular, up-and-coming light heavyweight fighters in the UFC aren’t going anywhere.

Walker suffered a first-round TKO loss to Corey Anderson at UFC 244 on Nov. 2 in New York. Prior to that, Walker had won nine straight — a streak going back to 2016 — and had not lost in the UFC. But the defeat will not deter Walker from continuing to embrace his own unique style.

“I got a standing ovation with this defeat,” Walker told ESPN Brazil in a recent interview translated from Portuguese. “The crowd applauded me and booed the other guy. So if they seem to like me, why am I supposed to change? I never joked around in a fight, I’m always serious. I like to show the public some energy, I know this is entertainment.”

Walker (17-4), who actually injured his shoulder doing the “worm” dance inside the Octagon right after a March win, said one thing he will change after losing to Anderson is his approach in his fights. Or at least he’ll go back to what got him into this position as a ranked 205-pound fighter. Walker, 27, was aggressive and took risks in his first three UFC fights, and they all ended in knockout or TKO victories inside of two minutes. Against Anderson, Walker said he hesitated.

“Next time, I will do what I did in my last fights [that I won],” Walker said. “I will do my job without waiting, I’ll play my game, fight with joy. The winning fighter is the one with the most attitude. I remember I threw a front kick, but I just wanted to see his reaction. I didn’t finish the kick. That was one of the things I learned: not hesitating, having confidence. I have to focus more on the psychological part. I have to eliminate what stresses me in the background. I could have knocked him out right there.”

So, what does he want to do next?

Walker had expressed interest in fighting the winner of a UFC Sao Paulo fight between Mauricio Rua and Paul Craig, but that bout ended in a draw. The Brazilian knockout artist will likely remain someone the UFC wants to push, and he does not believe he’s too far away from a title fight against Jon Jones, even with the loss to Anderson.

“I’m disturbing [Jones], for sure,” Walker said. “He knows I’m here. We’ll probably face each other in the near future. He has a lot to lose. He’s never been defeated. He better be afraid, not only of me, but of every top guy out there. He has everything to lose.”

Walker surely has a bright future in mixed martial arts, but ever the charismatic entertainer, he’s already looking past fighting.

“I still have other plans,” Walker said. “Maybe fight in the heavyweight division. … I don’t know. I could star in a movie in Hollywood. I think I’m a good enough actor. There’s always the WWE out there, too.”

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