Editor’s Note: This story was originally published before UFC 244. Walker’s next fight will take place on October 2 against Thiago Santos.
Good luck finding a recent UFC fighter who has risen as fast as Johnny Walker. The Brazilian crushed all three of his opponents in the UFC in the first round. And after each victory, fans of mixed martial arts were able to enjoy their wild celebrations, including the “worm” dance.
But there was a downside to all the fuss over the festivities: Following her knockout of Misha Cirkunov on March 2, the worm’s dance went awry and Walker hurt his shoulder when landing badly on the mat.
Next, the protagonists relate what happened that night. To see his impressive triumph over Cirkunov, and his not-so-impressive worm dance, scroll down to the end of the story.
Johnny Walker: Before dedicating myself to martial arts, I took dance classes. When you are young and you go to a party, you don’t know how to dance, you are shy. When I was young in Brazil, I had to know how to move. So I started, and after dancing, I learned martial arts.
Leonardo Gosling, Walker’s coach: He is always dancing in the house, in front of the mirror. He likes music. Sometimes it’s weird, sometimes it’s funny. He likes many types and styles of music.
Walker: I always do backflips in the gym, on the beach. I love them. So for my second fight in the UFC, I celebrated with a pretty crazy backflip.
Gosling: He did the cartwheel and didn’t land very well. And then he fell down and started doing the worm. It seems that he came up with the worm because he did not get the cartwheel.
Walker: I hadn’t practiced it. But I had seen a funny video where someone did it at an electronic music party. My brother reminded me that I sometimes played the worm at parties in Brazil.
Gosling: Then I said, “Johnny, I don’t want you to do any more cartwheels. It’s dangerous. There’s a lot at risk if you get hurt.” He said, “Well, is it okay if I do the worm?”, And I replied, “I think the worm is okay, you’re not going to hurt yourself.” So what happened in the third fight was also my fault, not just his. He was complaining about the shoulder before the fight, he said it felt like there was sand in it, it bothered him. But nothing serious.
Walker: I won again very quickly in my third fight. I still had a lot of energy and I just jumped up and started the worm because it was the first thing that occurred to me. But I landed with my arms outstretched and my shoulder dislocated, perhaps because I was already injured and I didn’t take care of myself.
Gosling: I immediately noticed his face and body reaction, and I said, “Oh my gosh.” I was the first to get to his side when I saw him lying on the floor. He said, “Oh, Leo, I think I watered it, my arm came off.” I said, “Try to pretend that nothing happened, because it will look very ugly if you can’t stand up.” But Joe Rogan noticed, he could see the expression on her face.
Dominick Cruz, UFC fighter and commentator: I knew he had hurt himself as soon as he fell, by the way he fell. He was full of adrenaline and fell head-on. You don’t feel things the same way because of adrenaline. I don’t have an analytical analysis, other than that he was excited, and I can’t blame him.
Walker: Everyone said, “How do you feel?” I told them, “I feel fine, the man is going to recover, but I have to see what the doctor says.”
Gosling: He recovered very quickly. Two and a half months passed and he was already sparring. The doctor said it would usually take eight months for him to fight again. But the doctor authorized him to fight again.
Walker: I recovered in three months, and then I had to train hard to regain my muscles. Now I am 100 percent.
crossTrust your instincts and I think it has been very successful. You don’t really start doubting until someone makes you doubt yourself. He’s like a guy who’s undefeated. The worm beat him, but he didn’t actually make the worm, and that was the problem. It was an accident.
Gosling: I’m asking you not to do it again. He said, “Come on, I have to have a celebration!” I said, “Devote yourself to meditating. Sit down and meditate. Something like that, please.”
Walker: I’ll think about it when I win [el sábado]. I don’t want to hurt myself again. I have practiced it very carefully, slowly. Everything has worked out so far. You never know what can happen after you win a fight. You have many emotions. I just hope I do something safe and that he doesn’t hurt me again.
– UFC (@ufc) March 3, 2019