In the light heavyweight clash, Ankalaev connected with a knee on Walker in the first round, which was declared illegal, as the fighter was on the ground at the time. Thereafter, Dan Movahedi (the referee) called on the medical doctor to check out Walker. It is alleged that the doctor had asked Walker which country he was from in order to ascertain whether his faculties were in working order, as per the fighter’s coach John Kavanagh, which was reported by Megan Olivi.
Walker responded with ‘the desert,’ which was enough for the doctor to declare Walker not fit enough to continue. This was well before the allotted five minutes that fighters are given to recover. And as the bout was declared a no-contest, White gave his opinion on the stoppage that divided many.
This is especially since Walker protested immediately as the latter accosted Ankalaev before security and Dana White intervened to diffuse the situation. The incident was not ideal, something which White promised to prevent moving forward. After all, there was a real danger that the situation could have escalated.
“Listen, the guy’s inexperienced. He got up in there – I think there’s a lot of things that probably happened. I guess he asked (Walker), ‘Where are you right now?’ And his response was, ‘I’m in the desert.’ He’s not wrong. I think there’s a big language barrier in there between the two of them. And he’s inexperienced. It sucks. It’s one of those things that happens sometimes. We’ll make it right, and we’ll fix it. That didn’t look like it was going in the right direction. That’s all we needed. Yeah … yeah,” White
The decision was significant since the winner would have put themselves in line for a title shot between the winner of Jiří Procházka and Alex Pereira. While there will no doubt be calls to run things back, the social media response towards the doctor’s conduct was mixed.
He did try and continue fighting when ref waved him though. Atleast learn some English. I don't think its the docs fault exactly
— peter evans (@PeteEvansx) October 22, 2023
By the rules, it should’ve been a DQ. An illegal shot made a fighter unable to continue, per the doctor – That’s a DQ. That’s a win for Johnny Walker.
— Yeti-San MMA (@YetiSanMMA) October 22, 2023
Johnny walker should have won
— ogziiink (@yiinzink) October 22, 2023