As World Series of Fighting continues to build its welterweight division, Josh Burkman is hoping to stake his claim for a title shot by beating Aaron Simpson on March 23 at WSOF 2. The event's undercard will stream live and free on Sherdog.com.
Burkman recently joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss the promotion, Simpson, Jon Fitch and more.
On signing with WSOF: “I was in talks with the UFC after I fought Jamie Yager. Joe Silva, I’ve always had a really good relationship with him and Dana White. They’ve always treated me good, so it was nothing against the UFC. It was just the UFC, they were trying to find a spot for me and that spot really didn’t open up. I had guys at my gym -- Brock Jardine, Steven Siler, Ramsey Nijem -- they’re all in the UFC and they were all just waiting for fights and waiting for fights and wanting to get fights. Then also the UFC had just bought Strikeforce. Joe Silva said, ‘You know, I’ve still got to cut 100 fighters, Josh.’ Then I got a call from Ali [Abdel-Aziz], the matchmaker of the World Series of Fighting, and the fight came up with Gerald Harris and I was having a tough time finding quality opponents and fights. That’s kind of what I needed at this point in my career. I sat and talked with Ali for a little while, and it just felt like the right move to do. At that point I had a little boy on the way. I just wanted something a little more stable than just fighting from show to show.”
On Simpson: “Aaron Simpson being cut from the UFC was probably a little premature, but at the same time, they’ve got these guys coming off “The Ultimate Fighter.” They’re paying them less. You’ve got to get rid of the veterans to want more money. I think that this is going to let everybody know where Aaron Simpson’s at. I feel like I’m getting better every fight. I’m excited I’m getting good opponents now that are really challenging me. I think this will kind of let everybody know where Aaron Simpson’s at and where I’m at.”
On how the fight could play out: “I think me and Aaron Simpson will be able to make this an exciting fight one way or another. I don’t mind fighting the wrestlers. I think that brings out the wrestling in me. With Gerald Harris, I thought I was going to have to fight the majority of that fight off my back. I didn’t have to go there too much. With Aaron Simpson, I don’t know. He’s a great wrestler, and we’ll kind of just have to see whether he tries to use his wrestling, whether he tries to use his standup, where that fight goes.”
On Fitch, whom WSOF recently signed, and a title shot: “My plan is to prove to everybody that I deserve to be at the top of the division in the World Series of Fighting. With Aaron Simpson, I think that kind of puts me on that path. I think the winner of this fight deserves a title shot. I think that Jon Fitch is in line there too, but I don’t think anybody should get cut from an organization and come off a loss and fight for a title. I think that they need to give Jon Fitch a fight and I think that the winner of that fight needs to fight the winner of this fight for the World Series of Fighting title.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:27:47).