by Mick Hammond
The second season of the Ultimate Fighter is on the air and the next breakout star could be Josh Burkman. If the name sounds familiar to readers it is because this young Team Quest fighter was involved in one of the more infamous moments of 2005. Earlier this year at an X-Fighting Championships show in Washington, Burkman was spit on by current UFC contender Jeremy Horn following the conclusion of their fight. Now after returning home after the shooting of TUF 2, Burkman offers his first interview to MMA Weekly to discuss his side of the incident as well as what can be expected of him on the show and what he feels it will do for his career.
When it comes to discussing his fight in April with Horn, Burkman says that there was no bad blood on his end of things and that what happened was a result of Horn’s anger over a resolved issue. “I think all it was is that I think his ego was a little hurt as cuz he was like ‘I can’t believe he wants to fight me.’ Before the fight there had been some bad blood between Jeremy, Justin Ellison and myself after a fight I had in Utah (in March). Someone said that I had called Justin’s wife a cunt or spit on her or something but that’s not true. In fact, Justin and I had apologized to each other and trained with each other and Justin even came up to me after the fight against Horn and said how totally shocked he was by what Jeremy did.”
Burkman continued, “I didn’t even know he spit on me, after the fight I got up, went over to him and shook his hand and told him it was a good fight. Then my brother told me that Jeremy spit on me and I couldn’t believe it. That’s where my bad blood started with Horn is when he spit on me. I was like, ‘I can’t believe this, you’ve got to be kidding me, after all this guy’s done he goes and spits on me in the ring.’ Especially in a state where the sport is brand new, where there’s thousands of people who have probably never seen fights before. I had a lot of respect for Horn before he spit on me, I looked up to him, he’s done a lot for the sport, and I was so happy to get an opportunity to fight him. He basically made himself look like an idiot.”
As for Horn’s issued apology a few days after the fight, Burkman doesn’t believe the sincerity of it and sums up his feelings over the situation by saying, “Horn said all that stuff to make himself look better. He’s still walking around here telling people that he’s not sorry for spitting on me and that he’s glad he spit on me. He’s not sorry, the apology was just to save face, I don’t buy into it at all. He did it because Monte Cox told him it was the best thing he could do because everyone absolutely lost respect for him. Team Quest lost respect for him, fighters and fans lost respect for him. If there is anything really to say about this is that what goes around comes around, and that karma’s a bitch. Horn will get his some day, sooner or later, he’ll get his.”
Moving beyond the situation with Horn, while Burkman is excited about the upcoming season of TUF 2 (in which he’s a welterweight competitor), he feels that show will not be the pinnacle of his career, but instead just the beginning of his road to success.
“For a lot of guys they are really excited that the show was going to be the peak for them, but for me I mean it’s just the beginning,” Burkman told MMA Weekly. “I’m really excited about the show, but it’s just a stepping stone that’s going to create opportunities for me. I’m really excited for everything that’s going to come from the show but again it’s just the beginning. It’s motivated me even more to work and train harder to become one of the best fighters in the world.”
Burkman further commented, “You know if anything the show has made me realize what I want. What my goal is, is to be the best I can be, it’s not to be a superstar. It made me focus more on what I want and I think I’m ready for it because I know what I want in the end, and that’s to be the best fighter in the world. With the help of my teammates, friends, and family, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, superstar or not.”
With the show will come instant recognition, the kind of which most of the fighters on the show have never experienced before. Burkman on the other hand has had some experience when it comes to loss of anonymity; Josh feels it’s a fair trade for everything the show will open to him.
“Definitely there’ll be a huge change,” said Josh. “Like when I’m walking somewhere with Chris Leben, people come up and say, ‘hey you’re the guy from The Ultimate Fighter,’ to him. That’s pretty cool to have people recognize you for what you do, especially when you love what you do. I’m just excited that it will give me the opportunity to keep fighting and make money doing what I love to do. Because before this it’s been a struggle, you know you get $300 here or $400 there, but now through this I can get sponsors so I can focus strictly on fighting and not have to get a regular job. Basically avoiding the 9-5 and be able to just train and do what I love is what I’m most excited about.”
Burkman continued, “You know I kind of already have experienced stuff like happens because of TV shows. I did a show here in Utah with Robert Roveta called The Ultimate Combat Experience. After the show I would get recognized by people here in Utah and it was great. I would get let in to places for free, get free drinks from people all the time, I mean you get used to that kind of stuff. I’m sure after TUF airs it’ll be a lot more intense but I’ve dealt with it before and it didn’t change who I was. So I don’t think after the show airs it will change anything, I am who I am and I know what I want and that will never change.”
With hours of footage and a need to entertain the TV audience, the possibility of situations being edited in a fashion not necessarily reflective of their actual intentions can happen. As Josh says however, he doesn’t care how the show is edited, because he’s confident his personality will come through regardless.
“You start to wonder how they are going to portray you and things like that, but the bottom line is I was me and I’m all right with that. People will be able to see who I am, that I’m a good guy, and I was myself. Anything that gets portrayed on that show, I’m all right with it. My thing is, whatever it is, it is. I know who I am and what I’m doing and that show is what it is. It promotes personalities and promotes fighters, any way I look at it I’m not going to get too caught up in how they make me look. It’s just a reality show and I am who I am and I’ll keep training, fighting and doing what I do,” stated Burkman.
Regardless of the outcome of TUF 2, Burkman is confident that he will be the fighter the fans will tune in to watch. No matter what kind of preconceived notions people may have of him, Josh is an individual, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The bottom line is that I don’t kiss any ass. I am me, whether you love me or hate me, you want to see more of me,” proclaimed Burkman. “I don’t tell people what they want to hear, I give you my opinions and whether you like them or not, that’s just who I am. I’m real and a lot of guys bullshit and stuff like that, I’m real, I say it how it is and I really don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me. At the end of the day I have my friends, family, and that’s what matters. I think that people see that if you don’t kiss any asses you get a bad rap for it, but at the end of the day I’m always myself and say what’s on my mind. I treat people with respect if they treat me with respect. If people they think they know me, stay tuned when the TV show hits, because they have no idea.”