UFC 294 did not go as planned for UFC contender Johnny Walker. Paired up against rising prospect Magomed Ankalaev in the third most important match of the evening, the light heavyweight only had three minutes to showcase his skillset before the fight was stopped and waved off due to an illegal shot from the Russian.
Did a language barrier get in the way of Walker at UFC 294?
Halfway through the match, Johnny Walker was hit an illegal knee thrown by Ankalaev, which led to a messy interaction between the athlete and the doctor who spoke to him during the timeout. While neither men speaks English as their native language, the Brazilian has improved his English by spending time in Dublin at SBG Ireland.
However, in an interview on the MMA Hour, Walker explained that he could not understand what the physician was asking him very well due to his thick accent. Nonetheless, the Brazilian also took exception to the questions he was asked in the interaction, due to a fear of saying the wrong thing.
“He asked me if I wanted to continue fighting,” Walker said. “I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Where are you?’ I didn’t want to say the wrong answer because I was excited when he was doing the test and I wanted to say the right answer,” Walker said.
“I thought to say Abu Dhabi, and then I said, ‘Fine, I’m in the f-cking desert, bro. I’m here. I’m good. I’m in the desert. I’m in the Middle East.’”
“I can speak good English,” Walker continued. “The doctor wasn’t in his native language and had a heavy accent as well, I understand what he said. I tried to explain and give the right answer to him, but in the middle of the situation, maybe I fight for the title shot and everything, my mind is going a thousand miles an hour. I received the shot in my face and I was OK to fight. Even my last fight against Anthony Smith, he said I attacked his family, I had no idea what he was talking about. ‘You attacked my family.’ ‘What?’ I didn’t understand.
“It’s the same situation. It’s very complicated because you go a thousand miles an hour, you’re fighting for your life and your career, hopefully get a title shot after, and everything’s over, it’s very disappointing.”
Should Ankalaev have been DQ’d at UFC 294?
Furthermore, Johnny Walker was also unhappy with how the entire stoppage was handled. While he was still recovering from the knee to the head, the Brazilian wished he could have had more time to regain his senses. Finally, Walker again emphasized how he felt good enough to keep on fighting and questioned why Ankalaev was not disqualified for ending the match with an illegal strike.
“They didn’t give me time to calm down, to recover,” Walker said. “If I had gotten kicked in the balls, I have five minutes to recover. I’m kneed in the face, I have nothing to recover. An illegal knee in the face? It’s more disappointing because the same thing happened with Aljamain and he became a champ after a knee like that.
“I don’t want to become champion [like that], but maybe take points off of him and the fight continues, or maybe disqualify him or whatever. It’s an illegal shot. He could put me out with a very illegal shot. I could have damage in my brain. Before, I gave him a legal and intentional knee on the middle, I came in with the flying knee and I missed. But on the floor, you know the rules. It’s a very dirty move. I’m upset.”
A win could have solidified Walker as a UFC contender
The result interrupted a three-fight winning streak for Johnny Walker (21-7-1 NC), with victories over Anthony Smith, Paul Craig and Ion Cutelaba. The 31-year-old’s most recent loss dates back to knockout loss to current champion Jamahal Hill, in February 2022.
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