Since signing with the World Series of Fighting last year, welterweight Josh Burkman has worked his way into the position of being one of the promotion’s top 170-pound fighters with two wins in two fights for the company.
As Burkman told MMAWeekly.com, getting to this point was his objective from the beginning.
“My goal was to go in and win fights against top competitors and become a feature guy in the organization,” he said. “(President) Ray Sefo and (matchmaker) Ali (Abdel-Aziz) promised me they’d go out and get top talent and they’ve done that.
“I’m real excited about the show, their deal with NBC Sports Network, and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Burkman will get a chance to prove he’s tops in the promotion when he takes on fellow former UFC welterweight Jon Fitch on Friday in Las Vegas, live on NBC Sports Network. The bout is a rematch of their initial fight seven years ago.
“The only thing that carries over is I remember getting beaten up by a very good fighter,” chuckled Burkman. “That’s definitely brought the best out of me in my training camp to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“With this fight I have a lot more respect for Jon. In the first fight I feel like I over-estimated myself and under-estimated him. I’m definitely not going to make that mistake again.”
Burkman says heading into Friday night, what’s between he and Fitch is purely business and is not motivated by revenge.
“For me this is not a grudge match,” Burkman said. “I respect Jon as a fighter and as a person. Jon is just trying to prove he’s still one of the best welterweights in the world and I’m trying to prove I belong in the Top 10 in the world.”
When looking at the bout from a technical standpoint, Burkman knows he cannot allow Fitch to gain control of the bout and dictate where it goes.
“To win this fight I have to keep Jon from getting on top and staying on top,” said Burkman. “I’ve got to find my time to strike and if there is going to be any work on the ground, I have to be the one to put him there, not the other way around.”
Not only will the winner of this bout be considered the top 170-pound fighter in the WSOF, if things go to plan, the winner will be half of the promotion’s inaugural welterweight championship bout later this year.
“Ray said on the conference calls that the winner of this fight would fight for the title,” said Burkman. “He didn’t necessarily say who the opponent would be, but one of us will be in the first title fight.
“It definitely is a little bit of an added motivation for myself and Jon, but I don’t think either one of us is looking past this fight. I think this is going to bring out a higher level of competition to me and I’m excited to see what my performance is going to be like against Jon.”