Josh Burkman is a veteran welterweight, who competed on TUF 2 and had ten fights in the UFC. He currently fights for the World Series of Fighting (WSoF), and he has won both of his fights in the promotion’s first two events. His last fight, a dominant victory over Aaron Simpson, set up what may be the biggest fight of Burkman’s career. On June 14, at WSOF 3, in Las Vegas, Burkman will rematch Jon Fitch in the main event. Burkman recently spoke with Jack Brown about the matchup, his fighting career, and how he became a “true” martial artist. Please listen as he discusses the following and more:
How he got started with wrestling:
“...The gym coach knew that I had an older brother that was much tougher than I was, and he was like, "This will help you with your brother one day."
How prepared he was for his first pro MMA fight:
“I went in and fought a guy that was 9-0. It was my first fight. I had never trained in any kind of formal martial art.”
What happened after his first fight:
“After that, I dropped out of school, gave up my scholarship, and told my parents that I was going to be a cagefighter. That was when my life turned from pursuing football and college and a degree, to being a professional mixed martial artist.”
How he reacted to a loss to Matt Horwich early in his career:
“When Horwich beat me, that's when I was exposed to Team Quest, Randy Couture, Chris Leben, and decided I'm going up there to train.”
His experience on season two of The Ultimate Fighter, with his win over Melvin Guillard and his early exit due to injury:
“You see people strategizing now and trying to get to the finals, where I was like, Melvin's the best guy and I'm going to prove to everybody that I'm the best guy here by beating him.”
“I broke my arm and didn't get to stay in the house very long. I wish I could have been in that house a little bit longer because I was only there for a week and a half, total. Back then, they didn't keep the fighters around."
How he would characterize his 5-5 career in the UFC:
“I would take 6-8 weeks to get ready for a fight, and in those 6-8 weeks I was very disciplined and very dedicated to my diet and getting ready for that fight I had. But then after that fight, it was the exact opposite. I was traveling. I was going out and hanging out in environments where I shouldn't have. You know, just partying, and enjoying the lifestyle of being a fighter, and I think that's why my career was up and down in the UFC.”
His 7-1 record since leaving the UFC and his lone loss to Jordan Mein:
“I don't know that that was a loss. You shouldn't go to a decision with Canadians in Canada. It was a very close fight."
How he feels about his upcoming rematch with Jon Fitch:
“I’m really excited about this fight. There’s probably not another fight that I would rather have besides Jon Fitch. There are other fights that I want, but none that I want more than this fight. I think this is the ultimate test to see where I'm at compared to where I've been. I think that Jon Fitch has improved a lot since then. Jon Fitch, I think, was definitely unfairly cut from the UFC and it probably had more to do with money than with talent.”
“Jon Fitch has been the toughest fight of my career. He probably gave me the biggest beating I've ever had in my life in or out of the cage. I will go into this fight with a lot of respect for Jon Fitch. He's the only person that's ever dropped me in my whole career. I keep that in mind in my training, but, at the same time, Jon Fitch is definitely not fighting the same fighter that he fought in 2006."
What he thinks of the WSOF:
“There are really good people running this organization, from the CEO to the President. I really like Ray Sefo as the President. He is a fighter. He understands where we're coming from and I appreciate the relationship that I have with him."
Who else he might like to fight someday:
“There's one fight that I think all welterweights want, at least any ones that want to truly challenge themselves, and at one point I would really love to fight Georges St-Pierre. That's like a dream fight for me. I've got some things to do before I can really get to the point of talking about that, but I think I'm going to be able to do those things."
Who supports him in his life now:
"Nothing is more energizing for me now than my wife and my son"
How much he enjoys being a fighter:
“At this point in my career, I don't even feel like I'm a fighter anymore because the definition of that is to struggle, and I don't feel like I'm struggling anymore. I'm performing now...I truly feel that I am a martial artist and I'm trying to get better at my craft every day.”
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