Josh Burkman: Hector Lombard is the one who should be worried
When Josh Burkman steps inside the Octagon next Saturday night at UFC 182 it will be the first time he’s fought for the promotion in over six years.
Originally a member of The Ultimate Fighter season 2, Burkman had a long career with the promotion that ended with a rather dull thud when he dropped four out of five fights including a three fight losing streak that signaled the end of his run with the UFC. At the time of his exit, Burkman was battling serious back issues that stopped him from applying the wrestling he was known for early in his career and it appeared as if he might just be done with fighting all together.
Once he took some much needed time off to mend a damaged back, Burkman returned to MMA before amassing an impressive 9-2 record in his last 11 fights with several victories over UFC notables such as Jon Fitch, Gerald Harris and Aaron Simpson.
The string of victories earned Burkman a call from UFC president Dana White, who reached out to the former Ultimate Fighter veteran and asked about re-acquiring his services. 45 minutes later he was re-signed to the UFC.
"I manage myself and I know what these contracts are like. I’m able to get a few things in there that I want and it’s usually pretty simple. I went over the contract and I said let’s do this and get it done," Burkman told FOX Sports.
The reason I’ve gotten where I’m at is because I win fights I’m not supposed to win. I’m going to continue to do that. I really believe I’m about to make a run. Hector Lombard is the one who should be worried
— Josh Burkman
Getting back to the UFC was always a long-term goal for Burkman, especially after the unceremonious exit he made the last time he fought there. Beyond the fact that the best fighters tend to end up in the UFC, Burkman always wanted to go back if for no other reason than to prove he really did belong there in the first place.
It wasn’t exactly an easy road to travel, but now that he’s back, Burkman says he wouldn’t change a thing about how he got the call to return.
"I definitely never fulfilled my potential in the UFC the first time around. Maybe some people might say I had a little too much fun," Burkman said with a laugh. "I just think my time away and having to fight with these organizations and find out who I was and what I wanted, it’s forged the man I am today. I wouldn’t change anything. I really believe timing is everything. I’m prepared to go into the UFC and make a run and really prove I’m better than I’ve ever been."
For his first matchup back, Burkman is facing No. 6 ranked welterweight Hector Lombard, who has been itching for a top matchup for the past few months with very few takers lining up to accept his challenge. Lombard has been begging for any of the best welterweights in the division to face him in the Octagon, but it doesn’t appear there have been many takers.
When Burkman landed the fight many assumed he was being brought in as a veteran name to essentially feed to Lombard as a sacrificial lamb since no top 10 fighters were available.
In reality, Burkman was thoroughly excited when he heard Lombard’s name mentioned because he’s never shied away from tough fights before so why start now? There’s no quicker way to title contention than to take out a ranked fighter on your first day back in the promotion so Burkman sees Lombard as a fast track, not a stumbling block.
"Personally, I wouldn’t want it any other way," Burkman said. "If you look back all the way to The Ultimate Fighter season 2, everybody said Melvin Guillard was the toughest competitor on the show and Matt Hughes said ‘who do you want?’ and I said Melvin. I wanted to take the toughest guy out first and then knock everybody else out. This is the same situation.
"They said not everybody wants to fight him. Well that’s the exact guy I want to come in and face."
Burkman’s no fool because perception will paint him as nothing more than cannon fodder for Lombard to chew up and spit out on January 3.
It’s not like he hasn’t been here before.
"I know I’m an underdog in this fight. I’ve been an underdog ever since I came back," Burkman said. "Even in my fights in Utah everybody said ‘oh Burkman’s old he doesn’t have anything left’. Then I come into World Series of Fighting and I’m a 4-to-1 underdog against Gerald Harris, I’m a 3-to-1 underdog against Aaron Simpson, I’m a 4-to-1 underdog against Jon Fitch, so this is just my path.
"The reason I’ve gotten where I’m at is because I win fights I’m not supposed to win. I’m going to continue to do that. I really believe I’m about to make a run. Hector Lombard is the one who should be worried."