Josh Burkman has seen just about everything in the cage. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Josh Burkman calls himself “The People’s Warrior” for good reason: He has been fighting professionally for almost 13 years and has seen it all. Burkman, like most fighters, has had his share of highs and lows, but he has never given up. Coming into his do-or-die match on Sunday, Burkman knows he can ill afford a loss.
After completing a stint on the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Burkman resided in the UFC’s welterweight division for four years and solidified himself as a tough, durable contender. He never quite reached the summit of the 170-pound mountain, and after suffering losses in four of five bouts, he was cut from Zuffa’s roster.
Burkman had no choice but to reinvent himself as he toiled outside the Octagon. It was not until World Series of Fighting signed him that he rose back to prominence, quickly toppling three straight foes, including his shocking first-round submission of former UFC welterweight title challenger Jon Fitch in Sherdog's 2013 “Submission of the Year.”
Burkman's second UFC stint has not gone according to plan, though. He was beaten by Hector Lombard via unanimous decision at UFC 182 in January, though Lombard eventually failed a post-fight drug test and it was changed to a no-contest. However, in his last bout at UFC 187 in May, Burkman was dominated and tapped in the third round by Dong Hyun Kim.
With his career as a relevant welterweight hanging in the balance, Burkman had to look at himself in the mirror and figure out exactly what had to be done to complete his resurrection inside the cage. He faces Canadian veteran Patrick Cote at UFC Fight Night “Holloway vs. Oliveira” in a fight that he simply must win or risk his career in the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
“This is a big fight for me to win, just in the direction my career goes,” Burkman said in a recent interview on “Beatdown” on the Sherdog Radio Network. “The Lombard fight, I had a terrible training camp and I just wanted to make sure I stepped in there for the fight. With the Kim fight, I was recovering from injuries in camp and my goal was to just not re-injure anything and get into that fight healthy. I did, but I just wasn’t able to train properly.”
Burkman professed that he is out to eradicate the demons that have haunted his return to the UFC. He does not believe Cote can handle what he brings to the cage.
“I think I’m a much better mixed martial artist than Cote,” Burkman said. “I think I can beat him in every area, especially with how my training camp went. I’m excited to get in there and put on a performance in the UFC. Going into this one healthy, I have no doubt.”
Burkman says he feels better than he ever has before. Beyond the usual “my best training camp ever” platitude, getting tapped by Kim forced him to work on his jiu-jitsu in the gi for the first time in 13 years and address his tendency of getting caught in submissions at inopportune times.
“That’s the only way people beat me -- is when they catch me in a submission late in fights," Burkman said. "There’s just no way I’m going to lose this fight.”
“If you saw my last two fights, you’d think that me and Cote are in the same place, that we are the same caliber opponent,” Burkman added, “but with how I’ve been training, I feel like I’m going to go in there and win and make it look easy. I know that’s a bold statement, but that’s what I plan on doing; and he fired me up quite a bit. “I mean, I like Cote and I have no problems with him, but [right now], I don’t like him," he continued. "He said something along the lines of when I get deep into fights, I stick my head out and give guys submissions, that I’m a quitter. I only hope that’s the guy he thinks he’s going to face because that’s just not the case. I am even more excited to hit him in the mouth now.”
Burkman is fighting in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; and even though it is not the hometown or home province of “The Predator,” it is still his country and his turf. Still, Burkman laughed off the notion that Cote’s home-field advantage will have any bearing on the outcome of the fight.
“I don’t mind going up and fighting in Canada,” Burkman said. “In truth, the last time I fought in Canada, the fans were awesome. I’m a competitor, so I don’t mind a few boos. The biggest concern I have is going to a decision against a Canadian in Canada, but I’ve worked very hard in preparation to make sure it doesn’t go to a decision.”