‘I’m a 11-0 heavyweight with five belts’: Johnny Walker’s brother Valter admits pressure to deliver in UFC debut

Johnny Walker’s younger brother Valter Walker makes his UFC debut Saturday when he puts his undefeated record on the line against Lukasz Brzeski at UFC Vegas 90, and already being in the spotlight thanks to his brother’s success gives him butterflies in his stomach.

“I’m a 11-0 heavyweight with five belts, and people already expect a great fight,” Valter said on MMA Fighting’s podcast Trocação Franca. “I’m [nervous] that I won’t deliver what fans expect. My brother is a knockout artist and my game isn’t like his. I have more knockouts on the ground. I take people down and ground-and-pound. We have different styles. People might expect me to fight like my brother, but I’m not my brother, I’m quite different.”

Valter expects to his Johnny in his corner for Saturday’s promotional debut, then plans to help his brother prepare for Johnny’s light heavyweight showdown against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC Saudi Arabia on June 22.

Valter admitted he has felt “surreal expectations” from fans since his MMA debut because his brother was already in the UFC at the time, and all he wants is to deliver exciting fights.

“I started working out because of my brother, I started in MMA because of my brother,” said the 26-year-old heavyweight. “I’ve always looked up to him like a superhero. I was a kid and he already was a teenager. He was a strong teenager, very fast, and I wanted to be like my brother.”

Valter was attending in law school in Brazil when Johnny moved to England to train for his 2018 fight on the UFC’s Contender Series. Valter flew in to help Johnny prepare then stuck around to be his sparring partner, following the UFC fighter to Thailand afterward.

“I was afraid to spar for real, too afraid to get punched in the face,” Walker said. “I didn’t like it, but I got beat up so much by my brother.

“I cried in our first sparring session together. He kicked me in the face and I started crying. I left the ring and ran to the bathroom and started crying. He went there and told me he ‘just touched my face,’ and told me to get my sh*t together. I was only 18. It was the third round of our sparring session and we did five more rounds. I was crying, but still trying to fight back. He told me he thought I had what it took to be a fighter because I was crying, but still trying to hit him back.”

Valter said he competed in Muay Thai before entering in some “illegal no-rules fights on the sand” in Thailand. He lost his first attempt by TKO — and fractured his nose in the process — but then won his next four times out. An injured shoulder then forced Valter to sideline himself and consider leaving combat sports for law school, where he’d study to become a police officer in Brazil, however his brother convinced him to have surgery first.

Russian coach Gor, the leader of GOR MMA and Valter’s main coach since then, saw championship potential in him and offered to help him get shoulder surgery. Valter ended up getting married and becoming a father in Russia, and has collected MMA titles around the world ever since. The UFC offer arrived after Walker claimed the Titan FC heavyweight title with a fourth-round stoppage of Alex Nicholson in his most recent appearance.

“I don’t like to make plans because every time I’ve made plans, it didn’t go the way I was expecting,” Walker said of what to expect from his UFC debut. “After my ninth fight, I said I’m done making plans. There was a fight that my coach said it was going to be easy and I went three rounds, super tough. ‘Easy fight?’ And then one we expected to be hard, I finished in the first round. I don’t like to make plans.

“People are like, ‘It’s Johnny’s brother, 11-0, and the other guy is coming off four losses.’ He has bills to pay just like I have. He’s there to kill me and I’m there to kill him. People say it’s going to be easy, that I’m going to knock him out. I don’t like to underestimate anyone, because when the cage closes and a punch lands on the chin, you’re out. The 11-0 guy can be on the ground and the guy on a skid is now the champion. I’m going there to win, of course, and put on a good fight. I want to deliver what people expect. But we never know what’s going to happen. I’m ready for anything. I’m ready to beat and get beat.”

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