· On the Spot ~ Donny “Eagle Eye” Walker
Donny “Eagle Eye” Walker (15-7, 0-1 UFC) was always a steady prospect who just paid his dues on the local scene, and after seven straight wins and a run as the featherweight champion of the highly respected Ohio-based NAAFS organization, he finally got his shot in the UFC against Jeff Hougland at UFC 132. Walker lost a unanimous decision to Hougland, but he got better as the fight went along and clearly won the third round of the fight.
Now returning to the UFC for his sophomore outing, Walker will take on Ken Stone (9-3, 0-1 UFC) on the preliminary card at "UFC Fight Night 25" this weekend. The loser of this fight is likely to receive his UFC pink slip, and Walker is hell bent on making sure that it isn’t him.
A longtime training partner of four-time UFC veteran and “The Ultimate Fighter 9” contestant Jason Dent at GriffonRawl MMA Academy in Medina, Ohio, Walker could become a bantamweight name to know in the near future.
David McKinney recently caught up with Walker to discuss “The Ultimate Fighter,” Ken Stone, and Walker’s future in the UFC.
David McKinney: With “The Ultimate Fighter 14” set to debut next week, let’s talk a little about the show. I know that you tried out for this season of TUF, but you didn’t make the cast. Instead, you went straight into the UFC. Can you talk a little bit about going the TUF route vs. going straight into the UFC?
Donny Walker: You know, I’m blessed. At least I made it to the UFC. "The Ultimate Fighter" tryouts went really good. I’m not allowed to say how far I got, but I got really far, and that was okay with me. Pretty much Jason said keep training and keep pushing, and you’ll get that call sooner or later. So a month later the UFC called and said, ‘Hey, you already have your medicals done, can you make weight next week?’ I was like, ‘Heck yeah.’ So I just seized the opportunity. In the end you’re just trying to get into the UFC to fight. You know, some of those guys on “The Ultimate Fighter” never even get a chance to fight for the UFC because they get cut right away.
DM: Let’s talk a little bit about your UFC debut against Jeff Hougland at UFC 132, where you lost a unanimous decision. Everybody always talks about the Octagon jitters, and it seems like even though you lost the fight, it was a close first round, and you clearly won the third. Can you talk a little bit about the fight?
DW: I didn’t think so, I think maybe a little bit of an adrenaline dump, but I was just excited to be there. And when that first round was called, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m in the UFC.’ And then I started, you know, I usually pick it up toward the end of the round, so that third round I won I thought unanimously. From there, I think I just learned from my mistakes pretty much.
DM: I’m sure now going into your second UFC fight there’s a little different outlook and now you have a full training camp. Can you just talk about how it’s different going into this fight?
DW: It’s way different. I’ve actually been able to watch footage on my guy this time. The last time I didn’t have any footage on the guy against Jeff Hougland. This time, though, I know Ken Stone, he’s from American Top Team. We were able to research him, and we were pretty much able to build practice around that. You know, knowing that he’s a southpaw and knowing that he’s a wrestler, there’s a lot of information on him since he fought in the WEC and the UFC.
DM: Both of Stone’s losses under the Zuffa banner are by knockout, so are you planning on coming out in this fight striking, especially knowing that he is a wrestler?
DW: Yeah the game plan is just to go out there and give it everything I’ve got, unlike the last fight. I think I definitely started to show my true self at the end of the last fight, and I think this fight you’re going to see the real Donny Walker from the first round to the last round if it goes that far. I won’t say that he has a glass chin, but look who’s beat him, Eddie Wineland and Scott Jorgensen, so I think he does have that in the back of his mind that he’s been knocked out twice, so I want to just capitalize on that.
DM: After re-watching the fight, a thing that stuck out to me is how great of a corner Jason Dent is. Obviously as a UFC veteran himself, he’s a guy who has been there and done that. Can you talk about having a great game planner and technical fighter like Jason in your corner?
DW: He definitely helps us all out, just being that he’s been in the UFC a handful of times, plus on “The Ultimate Fighter.” But he’s just passionate about the sport. You can have somebody work up a good game plan, but when you have somebody who is that passionate about the sport since we were literally like 13 or 14, because we go back that far as friends, you’ve got to have burning inside you to want to make your fighter better. And he does that for all of us.
DM: I noticed that Jason gives you specific technical advice during the fight and that you typically go right to what he is saying. Is he kind of like a head coach on the sidelines looking at the field and calling plays?
DW: Oh, definitely. It all depends on the fighter. With me, being that Jason’s been a fighter and he’s been in those positions, and since I’m comfortable fighting, I can actually pause in the fight and actually listen to what he is saying, and 99.9 percent of the time it’s the right choice to make. That’s why I went on that seven-fight win streak is because of him.
DM: Coming into the UFC you were the NAAFS champ and you had been on a seven-fight winning streak, but once you get to the UFC it doesn’t really matter what you did before you got to the UFC if you don’t keep winning. Since you lost your first fight, is there any added pressure to win this fight to keep your job?
DW: I’m focused just on this fight. Everything happens for a reason. You know, if I go in there and win, then cool. But I try not to plan ahead, because if I lose I’ll be bumped out, and I’ll come back and fight locally for NAAFS or fight for some of the other local organizations, and then hopefully go back to the UFC. But I plan on winning this one, so it shouldn’t matter either way.
DM: Obviously there aren’t any easy fights in the UFC, but this seems like a guy that you could and should beat. Do you have a prediction for this fight?
DW: I usually do good against southpaws and wrestlers, so I really see myself rocking him really good and submitting him. I’m hoping for the knockout, because I haven’t had a clean knockout, but a win is a win in my mind.