A lifelong obsession with MMA, inspiration from Jon Jones and the experience of the U.S. Marine Corps have turned Josh Walker into one of the hottest flyweight prospects in the game.
“I started to become a fan of the UFC from watching Jon Jones; I think that’s the G.O.A.T. and that’s the guy that got me into it,” Walker explained. “One day I was sitting at home and I was watching one of those old UFC Unleashed things and it said on there that he was a wrestler.”
Growing up in a single-parent household, Walker didn’t have the resources to excel in his youth at a lot of the martial arts that go into creating the next Jon Jones. There was, however, always wrestling.
Starting late in the life, Walker was still able to land a spot on the University of Saint Mary wrestling team until burnout caused him to step away from the sport. While he never felt wrestling was his calling in life, he was now equipped with the passion for MMA, a wrestling base and a role model in life - his grandpa.
“My grandpa was an infantry Marine and an OC-11,” Walker said. “He was a rifleman in the Vietnam War. He served a few tours out there and he was just a badass guy. My whole life I wanted to be a warrior, and I wanted to fight. My whole life I always had something in me, a fire to be fighting somewhere.”
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In the same way he followed in Jon Jones’ footsteps by joining the wrestling team, Walker would follow in his grandpa’s footsteps by joining the Marines.
While a member of the Corps, Walker’s training was on a slight hold. He knew that he wasn’t training for a life in the Marines, but because everybody else was, Walker had a hard time stepping his game up traditionally.
“A lot of active Marines are focused on being Marines,” Walker said. “I was just a reservist Marine, I didn’t deploy or go overseas or anything like that so my experience is a lot different from other Marines. It’s just the climate of the Marine Corps and the military, overall. I feel like people just focus on building their futures and careers and that’s why they’re joining the military. It’s not like the old days of the UFC where you could just hop in as a grown adult. Fighters are focused on fighting and Marines and military people are focused on their jobs and their careers and the well-being of their family.”
What Walker was able to take away were intangibles that made digging deep and focusing on fighting a whole lot easier for the rest of his career and life.
“It’s just discipline and attention to detail,” Walker said. “If you have those two intangibles there, you can go so far in MMA. The Marine Corps likes to pride themselves on saying we can touch any corner of the world and mobilize in 24-48 hours, so it’s about always being ready, always having attention to detail and being disciplined. If you make a mistake, your buddy dies. You make a mistake, you die. If you stick to that mindset and bring it to the fight game and I have my hands down, I’m knocked out. Wrong move, I’m hurt. The mental toughness and discipline to stick to a gameplan, I think that’s everything.”
Something else Walker was able to take away was a marksman honor that has the family divided. Has he officially surpassed his grandpa’s shooting accolades?
“I think I’m a little bit better,” Walker laughed.
At only 24 years old and with a 6-1 record, Walker has put himself in an incredible position to flourish in MMA. It’s always easy as a youth to “dedicate your life” to a sport when all that means is having fun in practices. Since day one he’s set out to be exactly what he’s on track to make himself: a UFC star. With the help of his grandpa, Jon Jones, wrestling, and so much more, he’s knocking on the UFC’s door with time on his side and the wind at his back.
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