Josh Burkman On Rematch With Jon Fitch: “Winner Of This Fight Is Definitely The Top Welterweight In The WSOF”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Since Josh Burkman exited from the UFC in 2008, following a three fight losing streak, “The People’s Warrior” has done his best to evolve as a fighter and to renew the high expectations that followed him earlier in his career. After losing by unanimous decision to Pete Sell at UFC 90, Burkman has gone 7-1, and is coming off an impressive stoppage win over Aaron Simpson at World Series of Fighting 2. As a result, the 32 year-old vet has been tapped to fight Jon Fitch at WSOF 3 Friday night, in a bout that could determine who is the promotion’s best welterweight.
“If I beat Jon Fitch I don’t necessarily feel like it makes me the uncrowned champion because I think I’ve got to win that belt to have that title,” Burkman noted during a recent media call to promote the June 14th event. “I think what it does though, is the winner of this fight is definitely the top welterweight in the World Series of Fighting, and I think that’s what we’re both trying to prove: we’re the top fighter in the welterweight division of this organization, and still, one of the top fighters in the welterweight rankings.”
Burkman and Fitch have met before, as the two fought years back in 2006, not long after Burkman had emerged from TUF 2 and was establishing himself as a promising welterweight. Fitch went on to win the bout via a rear-naked-choke submission in the second round.
“I remember that I got beat up. I remember that,” said Burkman, when asked to recall the UFC Fight Night 4 bout. “I had some things happen in my training camp, but I don’t know if those things didn’t happen, if the result would have been that different. Jon Fitch was a much more focused martial artist then I was at that time, and that’s why he came in and had the performance that he had.”
The loss to Fitch was Burkman’s first under the UFC banner, as prior to meeting the former welterweight contender, he had scored wins over Sam Morgan and Drew Fickett.
“I remember in that fight, me just learning a lot from it,” the Utah fighter noted. “You know? And how to go about training and approach my career…The other thing at the end of that second round, I think there were two seconds left in the second round, and I was just putting my hand down so I could get a little space. I didn’t tap; I was just saving all of my energy for the third round. So that’s kind of what I remember about it.”
“Another interesting thing about that is that I had just come off two wins at welterweight and I had never fought at welterweight before, so I came in and I beat Sam Morgan in like 21 seconds,” Burkman furthered. “And then the next fight, I fought Drew Fickett and he had just beaten Josh Koscheck, and he was ranked number ten in the world at that time.”
“I think definitely going into that fight I got called by Joe Silva and he told me they got Jon Fitch, and I didn’t even know who Jon Fitch was. I didn’t really follow the sport… I think because of those two victories I had at welterweight I probably overhyped myself and didn’t give Jon Fitch enough credit.”
Of course, since that fight took place over seven years ago, there’s no question that the men who will battle Friday night will be very different.
“I think his game’s involved,” conceded Burkman. “He’s had so many high level fights and having those fights, there’s no way to make up for that kind of experience. Just being a veteran and fighting the guys he’s fought has to make you better at what you do. He’s stay focused over the years and it seems like all his skill sets have gotten a little bit better over that time.”
WSOF 3 will be hosted by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.