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Johnny Walker feels he’s John Kavanagh’s new ‘project’ for UFC greatness: ‘He wants to make another champion’

Johnny Walker headlines UFC Vegas 38 against fellow Brazilian Thiago Santos on Saturday night.
Zuffa LLC

Coach John Kavanagh made fame as a MMA coach by taking Conor McGregor all the way up to winning two championship belts in the UFC, and Johnny Walker sees similar success for him under his tutelage.

The UFC light heavyweight talent has trained all over the world throughout his MMA career, and is happy to call Dublin home and train with Kavanagh. Speaking on a recent episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Walker explained what makes SBG Ireland so unique.

“John is training me like a son here,” Walker said. “He helps me with everything, puts the right guys to train with me. Everything I need. I have great report from him.”

Walker has done training camps in Russia, Canada and Brazil for previous UFC bouts, including one period with Firas Zahabi in Canada, but feels that Kavanagh has “embraced” him ahead of his UFC Vegas 38 main event clash with Thiago Santos on Saturday night.

“I think he wants to make a project with me,” said Walker, who currently lives at Kavanagh’s parents’ house. “He wants to make another project, so I’m betting on him the same way he’s betting on me. It will work out.”

Asked if he feels that SBG Ireland views him as “the next Conor McGregor,” Walker is just happy to be the first Johnny Walker and collect belts in the UFC.

“That’s what everybody believes, brother,” he said. “Everybody is confident that I have that potential and I’m putting my career as the 100 percent focus of my life now. It just can’t go wrong.”

Walker meets Santos in an all-Brazilian main event in Las Vegas and vows to finish the fight inside the distance — unless Santos is “so well-trained” he’s able to survive an onslaught.

“‘Marreta’ is explosive as I am and has knockout power, but I’m ready for five rounds,” Walker said. “I’m training five rounds every day. 25 minutes is my life now. If I need five rounds it will happen. If I don’t need it… I can’t predict the future but I have to believe myself.

“I’ll go there and I’ll either submit or knock him out. I won’t let it on the hands of the judges. But if the guy unfortunately is so well-trained and I can’t submit or knock him out, I’ll fight five rounds. I’m that guy that will go out there to beat other people and take the bonus. I have fun and bring joy to the fans. I’m a showman.”

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