Josh Emmett discusses fighting with injured leg: “I can’t even describe the pain”

Josh Emmett, UFC on ESPN 11
Image Credit: UFC.com (photographer not listed)

Josh Emmett picked up a big unanimous decision win over Shane Burgos in the co-main event of UFC on ESPN 11 last weekend, but it came at a cost.

Emmett sustained a litany of serious injuries in the fight, including a severe leg injury in the early moments of the opening round.

Speaking to MMA Fighting, Emmett opened up on the experience of fighting through these injuries. It sounds like it was incredibly painful—a testament to his toughness.

“I had everything dialed in,” Emmett said. “Biggest fight of my career to date. It was on ESPN. Everyone around the world was watching it and the first 15 seconds, I stepped wrong. I did it to myself. I hyperextended my knee.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that. I just had no stability. I can’t even describe the pain,” Emmett added. “It hurt like hell.

“Every time I would step on it, it would buckle. It would give out. I think most people would have quit or I think they would have looked for a way out. I worked too hard for that. I was just like screw this.

“Fourteen and a half more minutes, I just had to bite down on the mouthpiece and adjust my game plan, basically everything right there, just bite down and throw bombs and just throw the kitchen sink at him.”

Having sustained an injury so early in the fight, things could have gone disastrously for Emmett. Yet the top-10 featherweight contender was simply unwilling to go home without his win bonus.

“I had to dig deep cause I’m thinking right then I’m not going home with one check because of this freak accident,” Emmett said. “I’ve said it before, my mental toughness is my greatest attribute. I don’t just say that. I’m willing to go through hell and suffer a great deal of pain as long as I get my hand raised, it’s all worth it. That’s something you cannot teach.

“I will never look for a way out. To take me out, you have to knock me out or finish me. That’s just not me. I’ve never been that way and I’ll never be that way.”

Both Emmett and Burgos received $50,000 for the fight. While Emmett will now have to spend some time on the sidelines recovering, he’s content with the way things unfolded.

“Instead of me just going in there and knocking him out, I am glad the way it went down,” Emmett said. “Because I just had to battle through that [injury] and we put on a great performance. Everyone’s talking about it.”