The UFC is in the process of finalizing a fun light heavyweight matchup between top ten contenders. Combate was the first to report that the promotion was close to finalizing a matchup between Thiago Santos (21-9) and Johnny Walker (18-5).
The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on September 25th. This is a massive opportunity for Johnny Walker who is currently ranked tenth in the division. Walker was supposed to fight Jimmy Crute back in March.
However, Walker had to pull out of the fight and Crute went on to fight Anthony Smith. I figured the UFC would give Walker someone like Crute upon his return, but that’s not what’s happening. Walker is getting a shot at a former title challenger and top five contender.
In March of 2019, Johnny Walker knocked out Misha Cirkunov in seconds. That knockout had him 3-0 in the UFC with three quick first round knockouts. The promotion moved Walker up the ladder fast and had him face Corey Anderson at UFC 244.
Walker had hurt his shoulder celebrating the Cirkunov win and this was his return fight. Anderson knocked him out in the first round. Then, Walker lost to Nikita Krylov by decision. Walker did get a win over Ryan Spann in September which got him back on track.
This matchup on September 25th is huge for Walker. If he can pick up an impressive victory over Santos, he might only be a win or two away from a UFC title shot.
UFC crossroads for Marreta
It seems just like yesterday that Thiago “Marreta” Santos was challenging Jon Jones at UFC 239. Santos destroyed his knee in the opening rounds, but still fought the all time great to a split decision.
Santos returned after a lengthy layoff to fight Glover Teixeira last fall. He had his moments in the fight, but Santos ultimately gassed out and was submitted by Glover Teixeira.
At UFC 259, Santos fought Aleksandar Rakic and seemed extremely gun shy. He lost a decision and now he’s lost three in a row. Fighting Johnny Walker is a step back for Marreta, but it’s a needed one. This is a big fight for both of these men but in very different ways. It should be a fantastic matchup with so much on the line.