While he’s critical of his performances in 2014, lightweight up and comer LaRue Burley is happy he got wins in both his fights and was able to keep his undefeated streak alive.
“I performed I think okay (against Cliff Wright) and I got the job done,” said Burley. “People thought he was going to beat me and that the Bubba (Jenkins) win was a fluke, so I’m happy with the win.
“The (Raymond) Pina fight, I made a mistake in the first round and let him take me down after a slip, but I came out with a win.”
Since his win over Pina in September, Burley told MMAWeekly.com that he’s been busy developing his game as he prepares to make his RFA debut this Friday.
“I just went back to the drawing board and tried to better myself,” he said. “You’re only as good as the weakest part of your game, so I keep improving on all aspects.”
Burley knows it’s important for him to perform well to impress his new promotion, but he’s more so focused on reassuring himself that he belongs at this level.
“I should be fighting higher caliber guys and this is something I have to prove myself,” he said. “I thank the RFA for giving me a shot and that they didn’t make a mistake (bringing me in), but I want to prove more to myself that I’m as good as I think I am.”
For his first test in the RFA, Burley (5-0) will be taking on fellow undefeated prospect T.J. Hepburn (4-0) in a feature lightweight bout from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“If I go out there and fight like I know I can and what I know I can do – I’ll walk through him – he’s not going to know what to do,” Said Burley of Hepburn. “I guarantee he doesn’t have a sparring partner or has fought anybody that strikes as good as me, scrambles as good as me or is athletic as me.
“As long as I do what I do and fight my fight; defending the takedown and keep moving; I should pick him apart.”
While he’s confident he can pick up the win Friday night, Burley knows better than underestimating his opponent in his quest to move up the ranks.
“I want to be the RFA champ and make it to the UFC, but for right now I want to take it fight-by-fight,” said Burley. “I can’t look past (Hepburn) because once you do that, you lose.
“I look at this like every fight – that it’s my biggest fight ever – and if I take him lightly or for granted, he could catch me. I’m not going to let that happen.”