One way or another, this will be a completely different match. Magomed Ankalaev made a mistake last time and now has to prove that he is worthy again. Here is our Ankalaev vs Walker 2 prediction.
Ankalaev vs Walker 2 Prediction: Johnny Walker Has to Adapt
Magomed Ankalaev Preview
Magomed Ankalaev is currently third in the division rankings. Before he joined the UFC, the Russian competed in the Oplot Challenge and held the WFCA light heavyweight title. Before switching to MMA, the fighter from Makhachkala was quite successful in combat sambo. The 31-year-old Ankalaev has 17 wins (nine by knockout, eight by decision) and one defeat.
Ankalaev has not lost since his UFC debut in the spring of 2018 when he lost to Paul Craig (submission). After that, he won nine victories in a row. In December 2022, he fought Jan Blachowicz for the vacant light-heavyweight title, and the match was declared a split draw. For some strange reason, he then accepted the fight against the significantly lower-ranked Johnny Walker and we all know how that bout ended – Ankalaev resorted to an illegal knee strike and the referee stopped the fight.
However, we have to point out that Ankalaev looked much fresher and more dangerous during the three minutes they fought. He caught Johnny with literally every attack and did not give him the opportunity to get close.
It will be interesting to see whether Ankalaev will change his game plan for this rematch. Considering how long the Russian kept Walker in the clinch before the illegal strike happened, he may decide to transfer him to the ground this time.
Johnny Walker Preview
Johnny Walker is ranked seventh in the division rankings. He joined the UFC in 2018 and had mixed success since then. The Brazilian is a former Ultimate Challenge MMA and European Beatdown champion. Before the first fight with Ankalaev, the Latin American won three victories in a row but before that, he had four defeats in five matches.
The 31-year-old Walker has 21 wins (16 by knockout, two by decision, three by submission) and seven losses. He holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
There is a suspicion that Walker was hoping that the judges would give him the victory after the illegal strike, as was the case with Aljamain Sterling. Despite showing no signs of being phased immediately after the blow, he then pretended that he was seriously injured and allegedly could not adequately answer the doctor’s questions.
Of course, he will never admit these actions to be true and he already said in an interview that he believes Ankalaev was desperate to end the fight. Sounds a bit weird when Magomed was in full control and it was only the first round.
What this means is that Walker understands that this time he must reduce all risk to a minimum. He can't even throw his knees at close range as this will be a convenient position for Ankalaev to take him down.
We must not forget that Johnny’s main disadvantage – his poor endurance on the ground – has not changed, so in the 1st round he must do everything to break Magomed with low kicks and single jabs and keep him at a distance.
Magomed Ankalaev vs Johnny Walker 2: Ankalaev Will Win This Rematch
Bookmakers consider Ankalaev the favorite in the upcoming fight and we absolutely agree with them for our Ankalaev vs Walker 2 prediction. Many people felt that the first fight with Walker should not have been stopped. Yes, you can argue that such a strike should lead to disqualification but Walker was clearly okay and he even said that he wanted to continue the fight. And if that had happened, then the Russian would most likely have achieved victory.
Magomed proved that he was capable of winning this fight in the stand or at least having full control. It’s unlikely that Walker will change anything in his most banal game plan. He believes he can pull Ankalaev apart and lure him into attacking aggressively with overhands. In fact, he will be the first to begin to increase the pace, because he is practically incapable of tactical play at a distance.
Sooner or later, he will have to get close to Ankalaev and the Russian will either knock him out or find a way to take him down. If he can get a full mount and smash Walker with ground and pound for 2-3 minutes, then the outcome of the fight will be decided. Walker is not known for his cardio and generally has limited experience in 5-round matches.