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Walker not afraid of Craig’s ground game

Johnny Walker is set to face Paul Craig at UFC 283.
Johnny Walker is set to face Paul Craig at UFC 283. | Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Johnny Walker claims to be ready for Paul Craig’s jiu-jitsu at UFC 283.

Knockout artist Johnny Walker might just go for his second submission win in the UFC, this time around against a jiu-jitsu specialist. Paired up against Paul Craig at UFC 283, the Brazilian is guaranteeing that he’s not worried about the ‘Bearjew’’s grappling ahead of their match in Rio de Janeiro.

In an interview with Combate, Walker emphasized how good Craig’s ground skills are, comparing his opponent to legendary black belt Demian Maia. However, the 30-year-old also gave his own jiu-jitsu credit, saying he could even submit the his Scottish opponenht, too, should he see an opportunty.

“I’m good on the ground, too, but you have to respect the man’s ground game. He’s really good. He holds the record for triangle submission wins. If you’re careless, he will also go for an armbar or a heel hook, too. He’s really good at jiu-jitsu. He’s the light heavyweight Demian Maia. You have to respect him. If I see an arm, leg or neck within my grasp, though, I’m going for it. I’m not afraid of taking risks. I have technique, too. I’m sharp, I might take an arm or his neck home.”

Although Walker does not rule out a possible submission win, the Brazilian knows his biggest advantage lies on striking. Because of that, he says he will try his hardest to keep the fight standing in order to score a comfortable win in his home town.

“I’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep the fight standing.” Walker said. “I move better and I can use my reach. I know he’s going for a takedown when I start hitting him. It’s really hard to be aggressive while moving backwards. If I walk forward, though, I’ll be giving him an opportunity to take me down. It’s going to be harder to defend it, too. I’ll have to hit him to maintain the distance. I’ll have to be aggressive, but precise, too. I’ll have to attack him aggressively, but without moving forward. I practiced that a lot. I’ll be using my kicks, knees, elbows. I’ll use everything at my disposal.”

In his last outing, Walker (19-7) may have avoided getting released from the promotion when he scored his first UFC submission win against Ion Cutelaba, back in September 2022. The victory snapped a two-fight losing skid for the 33-year-old, with losses to Jamahal Hill and Thiago Santos.

Walker and Craig are expected to faceoff on the PPV portion of UFC 283, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The January 21st card is scheduled to be headlined by a light heavyweight fight for the division’s vacant title, between former champion Glover Teixeira and contender Jamahal Hill.


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