UFC analysis: Ankalaev punished Johnny Walker for showboating

Magomed Ankalaev came closer to fighting for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight title with a second-round knockout victory over Johnny Walker in…

By: Kostas Fantaousakis | 1 month
UFC analysis: Ankalaev punished Johnny Walker for showboating
Johnny Walker | Leandro Bernardes / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

UFC Vegas 84 outcome showed the flaws in Johnny Walker’s approach

Magomed Ankalaev came closer to fighting for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight title with a second-round knockout victory over Johnny Walker in their rematch at UFC Vegas 84 on Saturday. 

Following their initial encounter, which ended in a disappointing no contest in October, Ankalaev waited three months for another opportunity to face Walker. In this bout, Ankalaev adopted a strategy of weathering the early storm and capitalizing on Walker’s risky attacks, eventually controlling the octagon. 

The decisive sequence of events culminated in Ankalaev landing a vicious right hand, dropping Walker on his butt against the fence, and forcing referee Marc Goddard to stop the fight after a vicious uppercut that sealed the deal on Ankalev’s behalf. 

This defeat showcased the flaws in Walker’s approach, which relied on an unpredictable and reckless offense. A more balanced game approach, focusing on defense and counterattacking from a solid base, is the game that Ankalaev employed and proved to be more effective. The fight highlighted the importance of discipline and a consistent approach in the fight game, which is a strength of fighters from Dagestan and Eastern Europe in general. These fighters are known for their pressure and constant search for openings to finish the fight.

Walker’s lack of fundamentals hurt him at UFC Vegas 84

Magomed Ankalaev takes advantage of Johnny Walker's bad positioning at UFC Vegas 84.
Walker’s bad positioning before the finishing blow

There seems to be an overrated emphasis on unpredictability that dominates the game of many modern fighters, including Walker, and their trainers. This approach involves throwing various attacks from different stances while maintaining an upright posture and compromising balance. A more balanced game strategy, in contrast, focuses on:

  • Selective attacks: Prioritizing only meaningful strikes that have a significant impact on the opponent
  • Defensive positioning: Maintaining a solid base to effectively defend against incoming attacks
  • Octagon control: Utilizing the space within the octagon to create advantages and pressure the opponent

By adopting a more balanced approach, fighters can improve their overall performance and create a more engaging and strategic gameplay experience.

Ankalaev, in particular is such a fighter and has the skills to manage the range well and absorb sloppy attacks. As he stated, “Everybody who comes out to fight against me tries in the first round to pick a key against me, to figure out how to figure me out, but it’s not something they can do. When I come out here, I am open for the hunt and everybody in front of me is the hunted.”

Ankalaev expressed his readiness to fight for the title, emphasizing his 10 consecutive victories and the need for a title shot. He also mentioned that he is prepared to fight against Alex Pereira, an exciting and efficient striker, for the title. Given their respective styles, one can expect a fascinating match with Ankalaev potentially mixing things up with wrestling-to-striking strategies. 

Overall, the fight was entertaining, with an explosive ending that left a lasting impression. The match demonstrated the importance of a balanced approach in the fight game and the value of discipline and consistency in one’s strategy.

Magomed Ankalaev lands the finishing blow on Johnny Walker at UFC Vegas 84

The punch that ended the fight

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About the author
Kostas Fantaousakis
Kostas Fantaousakis

Kostas Fantaousakis is a researcher of fighting concepts, tactics, and techniques, and a state-certified MMA, grappling, and wrestling coach in Greece. He teaches his unique Speedforce MMA mittwork system© which combines strikes, takedowns, knees, and elbows applied in the Continuous Feedback© mittwork system of the Mayweather family. Kostas is a black belt in BJJ under MMA veteran and BJJ world champion Wander Braga (the teacher of Gabriel Napao Gonzaga).

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