It’s hard to believe it’s been over seven years since the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. That particular group of fighters came in with very high expectations due to the success of the inaugural cast of contestants. During season two the UFC showcased eight welterweights & eight heavyweights who were coached by Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin. One of the 170lb. fighters was Salt Lake City native Josh “The People’s Warrior” Burkman who came into the show with an impressive 13-3 record.
Burkman didn’t last long as he was forced to withdraw after suffering a broken arm during his bout with Melvin Guillard on the second episode of the season. Burkman actually was victorious in that match-up winning via unanimous decision. After his arm healed he returned at The Ultimate Fighter Finale 2 where he defeated Sammy Morgan via TKO (Slam) in just 21 seconds. Burkman would then go on to have a very inconsistent run while with the UFC.
During his three year tenure inside the Octagon, Burkman had a record of five wins and five losses. He defeated the likes of Josh Neer, Drew Fickett and Forrest Petz while losing to Jon Fitch, Karo Parisyan and Mike Swick. He was released in October of 2008 after he lost to Pete Sell, signifying his third straight defeat. Since then he has predominately fought for Showdown Fights which is based in his home state of Utah.
Last year he signed with the World Series of Fighting, a Las Vegas based promotion spearheaded by kickboxing legend Ray Sefo. The promotion made its debut in November of last year and had their main card televised on the NBC Sports Network, formerly known as Versus. Burkman defeated fellow UFC veteran Gerald Harris via unanimous decision and is now preparing to face Aaron Simpson in Atlantic City next month. Up until last week he was scheduled to face Ryan LaFlare, but the UFC stepped in and offered LaFlare a fight in Sweden. The WSOF didn’t take long in bringing in a suitable replacement in Simpson.
“I’m really excited in the switch from LaFlare to Simpson,” Burkman told BJPenn.Com Radio. “I was excited about the fight anyway, but where I’m at in my career I want to get the toughest fights that I can get. I want to fight guys and get better and better, it’s not that I don’t think LaFlare is a great fighter, but he’s more of an up and comer. I didn’t think he was a big step up from Harris. As far as Simpson, I think I’ll be an underdog in this fight, but if I want to keep climbing the ladder then I need to beat tougher opponents.”
“I’ve pushed up my training camp because of Simpson’s all-around game, he’s a tough fighter and I respect him. As far as advantages, I’m going to have to figure that out in the fight, he’s obviously a really good wrestler. Usually when I face a good wrestler it brings out my wrestling. I’m not going to try and force the stand-up game or the ground game; I’m just going to go where it goes, kind of like I did against Harris. I think I’ll figure that out when I’m in there. I don’t always know my gameplan when I’m in there, I just try to figure them out and go with what works.”
Since his release from the UFC Burkman has won six of his seven fights with the lone loss coming to Canadian Jordan Mein via unanimous decision. He attributes a lot of his success to growing up and becoming more mature. Burkman was married in December of 2011 and he gives his wife a lot of the credit for helping him focus on becoming a better person and a better fighter.
“I told somebody this in my last interview, I got married about a year ago,” said Burkman. “I had a little boy too, so now I have a family and it’s brought the best out of me. It’s fulfilled me more, it’s made me work harder and I’m much more focused. At the end of my UFC career I had back injuries and I wasn’t able to train like a professional fighter should train. I was fighting because I love to fight, but I think taking a year and a half off then coming back gave me a new passion for fighting. I got my health back and a passion for learning and that’s made all the difference in the world.”
After competing in the UFC, Showdown Fights and various regional promotions, Burkman has seen the ups and downs that come with dealing with different promoters. Now that he has a new home in the WSOF, he is happy and feels this is an organization that knows how to treat its fighters the right way.
“I always say the UFC is in a league of their own and I don’t think you can compete with them,” Burkman stated. “I think the WSOF is being smart, they’re not rushing things and the management are good people to work with. I want to be able to fight in a show where people do what they say they’re going to do and I can fight quality opponents. They’ve given me that opportunity, I was having a hard time finding higher level opponents fighting in these other shows. I think by signing the three year deal with NBC will take the show to a whole other level. I’m excited and very happy with the people and the organization.”
“I signed a three fight deal and they gave me Harris who was a tough opponent. I told them when I signed the deal that I wasn’t trying to go anywhere else. I want to fight here and prove that I’m one of the best welterweights in the world. I truly believe that I’m better than I ever was, I’m healthy and I just want a chance to prove it. I just want tough competition which they have done matching me up with Harris and now Simpson. My goal was to come here, win some fights, become a featured name and get a chance to win a world title. It’s going to take a little time and work, but that’s my gameplan and they are giving me the chance to climb the ladder.”"bj Penn", Aaron Simpson, bjpenndotcom, BJPennDotCom Radio, blogtalk radio, drew fickett, featured, gerald harris, jordan mein, josh burkman, Josh Neer, karo parisyan, Matt Hughes, Melvin Guillard, Mike Swick, MMA NEWS, mma podcasts, nbc sports network, pete sell, ray sefo, Rich Franklin, ryan laflare, Strikeforce, the ultimate fighter season 2, ufc news, world series of fighting, world series of fighting 2