Josh Burkman on UFC Return, ‘Bitter’ Ben Askren, ‘Overblown’ Twitter Joke

By C.J. Tuttle Oct 7, 2014
Josh Burkman is back in the UFC after six years away. | Photo: TJ De Santis/

Josh Burkman’s return to Ultimate Fighting Championship wasn’t some long, drawn-out process. In fact, the former World Series of Fighting competitor said it happened over the course of one day.

During an interview with Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” on Monday, Burkman explained how he went from one Las Vegas-based promotion to another.

“It all kind of happened in a 24-hour period. I just had signed a new contract with WSOF, so I went down to train at Xtreme Couture in Vegas, but when I was down there, they couldn’t give me an exact opponent. We thought it was going to be Steve Carl, but he really didn’t want to fight me. Seems like anyone that they wanted to fight me wanted WSOF to match their pay to mine,” Burkman told “World Series of Fighting is growing, but with growing comes some pains and shuffling. So, what ended up happening was I wound up having a chance to go back to the UFC. On a Friday morning, [WSOF] called and said they are going to release me. After practice, I had a message from Dana White. I went over to Dana’s office, we talked for 45 minutes, he offered me a fight against Hector [Lombard] and a contract.”

One might expect Burkman to slowly work his way up the welterweight ranks upon his return to the Octagon, but at this stage in his career, “The People’s Warrior” wants the best everytime he is scheduled to compete. Taking a fight against Hector Lombard at UFC 182 in January isn’t exactly the easiest path back to prominence.

“I think that this is a bigger opportunity than any of the fights I had in the UFC prior. I’ve been there before. A lot has changed, but I know what I am walking into. My caliber opponents have been very tough outside the UFC also. I feel like I am ready for this step up in competition. I want the best fights I can get right away,” Burkman said. “Dana [White] likes people that want to fight and that won’t turn down fights. I think with Dana bringing me in, he knew I would take this fight. I am surprised people would ever try and pick their opponents at this point in the ball game.”

Burkman had nothing but positive things to say regarding his former promotion, a company he was able to secure some victories in before ultimately returning to where he last competed six years prior.

“If you’re WSOF I think it’s beneficial to have a positive relationship with the UFC. For fighters, it’s a good road to work yourself back. Now that they are figuring out who their core group is and finding out to how to give those guys fights, but that didn’t come without time,” Burkman said. “I don’t think it’s smart for any organization to compete with the UFC, but it’s smart to try and get a piece of that market. They keep their relationship cordial with the UFC and give fighters an opportunity to come back. Who knows, if pay-per-view works out for them, they could give the competitors a chance to make lots of money and then nobody wants to leave.”

At 34, Burkman is more than aware his mixed martial arts career isn’t exactly just beginning. But for him, there is no time like the present to make another serious run at 170-pounds.

“As long as I can compete at a high level in training and push myself, I still want to keep going. If it came to a point where I couldn’t compete, I would hang it up.”

Just last weekend, Burkman was the topic of conversation for another reason following a Twitter conversation with One Fighting Championship welterweight champ Ben Askren. On “Beatdown,” Burkman put to bed any rumors of him throwing his fight against Steve Carl at WSOF 6 in order to be released.

Ben Askren is just a bitter dude, he has a great career going on, but it seems like he is just not happy. He’s always trolling and saying stuff about the UFC and calling out fighters. For me, when I was outside the UFC I was never concerned -- I’d watch those guys and see what was trending but I was focused on what I was doing,” Burkman explained. “That Tweet was in response to Askren saying I got beat up by Steve Carl and saying I now I get the No. 3 fighter in the world. We all downplay our losses, I probably should have phrased it differently, so I think it was dry humor, sarcasm and people saw it and tried to make a story out of it. But the bottom line is I would never ever put myself in that position. It definitely got overblown.

Burkman explained how he felt about potentially fighting the undefeated former Bellator MMA champion if Askren ever ends up under the UFC umbrella.

“I’ve only seen him fight once. He’s obviously very talented. I’m sure he would fare decent in the UFC, but obviously his relationships aren’t where they need to be to get him where he needs to get. If he keeps winning in One FC, maybe he comes over and me and him get to fight each other, I wouldn't mind that.”


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