Johnny Walker wasn’t even allowed a post-fight shower before getting kicked out of UFC 279 arena: “They said I needed tickets”
Lost in the shuffle of a wild night of fights at UFC 279 is the strange story of Johnny Walker getting kicked out of the T-Mobile Arena after his first round submission win over Ion Cutelaba. Walker’s coach John Kavanagh shared footage of Walker standing on the Las Vegas strip in his Venum fight shorts, no shoes, and his gloves still on.
Now Walker and Kavanagh are sharing their stories of what exactly happened. Neither seem particularly bothered by the situation, but they do recognize how bizarre it was.
“I didn’t have the time to dress. Like, it was so quick what happened,” Walker said in an interview with Helen Yee. “I was very hyped after the win, then I went to check with the doctor, I hurt my foot a little bit. And then I start doing interviews, take pictures. Then I saw the big tent outside with all the media, I went there and did a couple of interviews.”
— Coach JK (@John_Kavanagh) September 11, 2022
“And then I was following a UFC girl, who put me in the right spots for the interviews. And I said to her ‘Okay, can I come back to the arena, my fiancée is there watching.’ And she said no. I say why and she tried to talk to somebody to see what was going on but they said I needed tickets to come back to the arena.”
“Also Chris Barnett, he was supposed to be in the hospital and he was asking for somebody to give him a lift!” Walker said with a laugh. “He was on the streets like me, saying ‘I don’t feel safe here, can somebody give me a lift?’ You can see on his Instagram. I don’t know what really happened, I don’t know why, but they just kick us out. But it’s okay, I won, I got the bonus, I was happy anyway.”
Walker’s coach John Kavanagh, who is probably used to better treatment when he corners Conor McGregor, shared a similar story on Instagram.
“After the fight it’s the usual thing, you go off to medical and then you go off to various media groups to do your interviews,” he said. “And usually you get to go back to your locker room, quick shower, get changed, and then back to the hotel. Or if you’re lucky you might even get tickets to go back outside.”
“It was a little bit odd how it all went down,” Kavanagh continued. “So the last media interview, it’s in a tent outside the T-Mobile. And we come out of the tent, and go back into the building, grab our gear, and get changed. The blue shirt UFC staff – who were incredibly professional and polite, nothing against them – they had to stop us at the door and tell us ‘You’re not allowed back in.'”
“I just didn’t really know what was going on. We were like ‘Just walk us back to the changing room. We just want to get a quick shower, Johnny Walker is covered in another man’s sweat, so quick shower, get changed, and we will be out of your hair’. And they said no. Something to do with what happened at the press conference and I guess there was elevated levels of concern that something could happen. I guess that’s fair enough.”
While Kavanagh heard this was a result of heightened security behind-the-scenes after several near-brawls on fight week, Dana White had a different answer at the UFC 279 post-fight press conference.
“I guess ever since COVID, they started this thing where they get the fighters right out of here,” White said. “I don’t know why that happened or what happened. I mean we’re not throwing Johnny Walker out in the street shoeless, I’m sure.”
After being told that yes, that was exactly what happened, White laughed and said “We f***ing threw him right out in the streets, huh? It’s rough around here. I don’t know.”
What do you think of this latest SNAFU situation and how the UFC handled it, PENN Nation? Let us know in the comments below!