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Coach responds to Johnny Walker’s comments: ‘He didn’t own up to his loss’

Johnny Walker (pictured, blue gloves) parted ways with his longtime coach Leo Gosling after his UFC loss to Corey Anderson.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Johnny Walker recently parted ways with his longtime coach Leo Gosling after his first UFC loss, a quick knockout against Corey Anderson at UFC 244. Ahead of his upcoming fight with Nikita Krylov at UFC Brasilia, he decided to join the famed Tristar Gym in Canada.

Gosling initially declined to comment when contacted by MMA Fighting. But one day later, he changed his mind and gave an extended interview.

The Brazilian coach, who now lives in Lisboa, Portugal, and trains fighters at the Invictus gym, responded to some of the comments made by the rising UFC star. According to Gosling, the “stressful” fight week mentioned by Walker during their public split was caused by the fighter himself.

“He brought a girl from Canada to stay with him in his hotel room, and I said ‘No, it’s not time for this, let’s stay together and focused,’” Gosling said. “He kept saying, ‘No, I’ll beat this guy up, trust me.’ He was very bossy, and I didn’t want to cause any trouble. The other ‘stress’ he (talked about) was about a UFC ticket I asked for (to give) a friend. He said he would give it to me, but then gave it to someone else. This girl came from France for the event, and he left her hanging. That’s what he means by ‘stress.’”

Walker did not immediately respond for comment.

Gosling said Walker’s words and actions were motivated by money — “he was bothered by the percentage he was paying me, 10 percent, which I thought was little, but accepted it” — and his desire to blame someone else for his loss. Speaking with MMA Fighting, Walker said he felt like going to war “and not being happy with who’s with you,” wondering if he could trust Gosling or “get shot in the back.”

“We went to war several times together,” Gosling said. “What happened to Johnny was fame, success and money going over his head. He became friends with other coaches, other managers, everybody telling him ‘Leo is a small (coach), if you want to become champion you have to train in big teams.’ I was open to that and even took him to a big team in Russia, American Top Team. I was there with him, no problem at all. I have an open mind, I know that one coach can’t teach all disciplines. It’s impossible to be good in everything.

“He needed to use that as an excuse, he didn’t own up his loss because he didn’t train enough. He missed practices, he went out to meet women. He met women during fight week and asked me to leave the hotel. He became authoritarian, bossy, and I kept my cool and didn’t raise my voice. He didn’t have the guts to call me and say he was leaving me. He’s not obligated to stay with me, but… Johnny will show his true self day by day. People will see who he truly is.”

About the $30,000 investment Walker claims Gosling got from the fighter and gave nothing in return, the coach says they both lost $10,000. In fact, Gosling says the UFC light heavyweight has some good investments that were suggested by him, and doesn’t expect Walker to pay him what he says is owed.

“All I really see is greed, ingratitude, and an obsession to prove himself to his thousands of fans,” Gosling said. “He spends six to eight hours a day seeing what people talk about him (online). Let’s see how he behaves now, if he’s going to honor what he has with me. We don’t have a contract, but we have a deal, looking each other in the eye. Let’s see if he really is worthy of a man like he says.”

Gosling says “it’s really hard to forgive” Walker right now, but expects to reach that point eventually. Even thought he doesn’t envision themselves working together one day anymore, Gosling wishes his former protégé success in the Octagon even if some setbacks have to happen along the way.

“I hope he becomes champion because that will be the result of my work,” Gosling said, “But would also understand — and thinks it’s good — if he trips and falls back to square one. Maybe he reunites with those he abandoned along the way. He knows what I’m talking about. I don’t wish him bad, I just wish he learns.”