by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Josh Burkman’s last fight with Mike Swick did not go the way he was hoping it would go. Burkman, who is known for his good wrestling ability and pressure, came out on the losing end of what ended up being a fairly lackluster bout.
He was unhappy with his performance even though he believes he won the fight. However, “The People’s Warrior” decided it was time for a change and moved out to Las Vegas to join Xtreme Couture.
“I moved out here full-time now,” Burkman said in a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio. “I tried to move out here a couple years ago and I was out here for six weeks and I was like, ‘I got to go home.’ There are so many beautiful distractions out here. I enjoyed every one of them last time. This time, I’m growing up. Now that I’m staying in shape, I’m enjoying my training.”
Having the ability to train with fighters like Randy Couture, Jay Hieron, John Alessio, Mike Pyle and Gray Maynard only increases Burkman’s potential in the Octagon. When asked about how he feels training at Xtreme Couture, Burkman replied, “It’s awesome, man. I knew what I was coming here for and it’s awesome. All the coaches are awesome. I still do my own thing a lot. A lot of good boxing and a lot of good wrestling I wasn’t getting, I’m getting at Xtreme Couture. I’m getting more and more focused and I know it’s going to pay off.”
With his new training camp under his belt, he is hoping to get back to where he was earlier in his career… finishing fights. Burkman’s last five bouts, win or lose, have gone to a decision. He believes that the decisions have occurred due to his lack of composure at certain parts of the fight.
“I started off my career and I ended fights. I entertained my fans. That’s how I got my nickname. I think it’s kind of been a growing pain in the UFC, going to decisions. My composure wasn’t there when I wanted to explode in the first round,” explained Burkman. “I think now I’m going to pick and choose my moments a little better.”
While Burkman always seems to be in good shape, he admits his judgment may have been off at times during his fights. That is a mistake that he is looking to correct.
“I’m always in good shape. That’s one thing I’m always focused on. I’m healthy; making sure my conditioning is up. I thought I was in such good shape that I could fight like that for 15 minutes until I started fighting the best guys in the world. I think the biggest thing I’m going to do is not necessarily pace myself, but look for the openings. I think I’ve relied on my athleticism too much in the past and now I want to use my head more.”
On Saturday night at The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale, Burkman will take on Dustin Hazelett. Hazelett is a well-rounded fighter who’s defeated quality opponents like Jonathan Goulet, Diego Saraiva and Junior Assuncao. Burkman isn’t intimidated by Hazelett though and feels comfortable wherever the fight goes.
“I’m going in there feeling real comfortable on my feet. I’m ready to go anywhere. One thing I noticed about Dustin Hazelett is he sometimes gives up that takedown. If he’s going to let me in and get a body lock on him, I’m going to drop him on his head. I’m going to pick him up and slam him and go from there. I’m not afraid to go to the ground with anybody.”
Hazelett is a taller fighter for welterweight, standing 6’1″, which is a familiar frame for Burkman, considering he just fought Mike Swick. Even though their frames may be similar, Burkman believes that there are some differences.
“I think he has better straight punches and I’m working my submission defense a little bit more,” commented Burkman about Hazelett. “Other than that, nothing much has changed. That’s what my style is about. You never know what you’re gonna get and I’m going to throw you off your game.”
Hazelett is a tough opponent who shouldn’t be taken lightly in this fight and Burkman has a lot of respect for him. However, he believes that he’ll mentally break Hazelett.
“I don’t see a lot of weaknesses in his game. The guy’s got solid skills. I’m gonna bring the fight to him. I think he’ll be alright in the first round, but in the second round he’s gonna be like ‘I don’t want to be here no more.’ I’m going to knock his ass out!”