Well, ladies and gentlemen, we made it to the middle of March before finding what could likely be the UFC FIGHT PASS 2021 KO of the Year.
Boston’s own Steve Walker showed the world why he’s the Lion Fight champ-champ. In defense of his super cruiserweight belt against 33-year-old Brian Collette, Walker landed one of the finest knockouts in UFC FIGHT PASS history - A flush tornado kick in under 60 seconds.
After extensive research on Collette, Walker and his coach, Bill Newcomb, found that the hole in the challenger’s game was his ability to react under pressure, so the game plan was to push the pace at all cost. Pressure mixed with a textbook “after practice technique” resulted in the most viral moment of Walker’s career.
“You only have two seconds,” Walker explained. “That’s it. In the two seconds you have to see your opponent’s face and you have to read his body language. If their hands go up that’s when you do the move. That’s why I did a fake knee and did a tornado kick.”
Executed perfectly, Walker understood what was on the line if he missed the kick. Not only is a botched tornado kick an impossible landing to predict, it’s an awful look and it would result in a permanent removal of one of his most crowd-pleasing strikes. “Put ‘Em To Sleep” couldn’t have that.
“Bill Newcomb always tells me, ‘keep it basic; basic wins fights,” Walker said. “’If the flashiness is there, do it, but if you miss, I don’t want to ever see you do it again in a fight.’ He’ll always give me confidence but it’s like, ‘if you mess up one time, I don’t want to see you throw that kick again ever.’”
With possibly only one chance to get it right, it was all laid out perfectly. Collette was backing away from the pressure, temporarily shelling up to outlast the barrage, backed into the corner and biting on the fake knee.
It landed with Tekken-like perfection and in the true spirit of martial arts, Walker’s only celebration was backing away and bowing to his opponent.
“The big kid inside of me was trying to come out of me like, ‘Jump, run around the ring or climb up on top of the turnbuckle and raise your hands.’ But then the humbleness of me was like, ‘No. That’s not how your coach brought you up. Muay Thai is about showing respect.’ You don’t show joy in somebody’s pain and agony,” Walker firmly stated.
Although Walker was forced to repress the “big kid” inside of him immediately after the contest, that didn’t stop him from admiring his viral tweet as it made the rounds on social media.
Admittedly checking the viewership numbers “about 2,000 times” Walker acknowledged that landing the kick was a special feeling but there’s nothing quite like watching it back.
“To see yourself actually land that on someone physically and see it on the screen is way better because you get to see how high you jumped, how long your legs look when you’ve extended your kick,” Walker said. “You get to see all the details you don’t actually get to see when you’re in the moment. Watching on camera is beautiful because the camera always captures the moment.”
Without a scratch on him after the fight, Walker hopes to fight again in August, and while the pressure is high on him to live up to that knockout, he knows that it’s all about creating the opportunities, something he’s always game for.
Topping that knockout won’t necessarily be impossible, but Walker finds it hard to believe anybody will be taking UFC FIGHT PASS Knockout of the Year away from him in 2021. Something tells us he may be right.
“They’ll have to do something spectacular,” Walker laughed. “It’d have to be like some super jump knee or something like that. But to end a fight in 48 seconds and end it with class? No. I don’t think so.”
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