Coming off a two year layoff this past November, welterweight LaRue Burley has shown no signs of rust in his two fights as part of the XFC 170 tournament, picking up back-to-back finishes.
First against Manny Villareal in November, then again this May versus late replacement Bradley Desir, Burley showcased his versatility, winning via submission in the former and then TKO in the latter.
“I thing I did good for the situation that was handed to me as far as my opponent falling out a couple days before the fight and them having to put in an alternate (in Desir),” Burley told MMAWeekly.com. “To not be able to come up with a camp and game plan for him we just had to take it in stride and take what was given and adjust while the fight was happening.
“I feel we did that pretty well. There’s always more things you feel you could do better, and there are certain parts of the fight that I felt I could have capitalized on but I didn’t, but that all comes in every fight.”
Having missed all of 2019 and most of 2020, to get back to fighting the last seven months has been invigorating for Burley and helps give him the drive to keep going.
“It’s exciting,” said Burley. “It fuels you. It fills you. It makes you want to fight. It makes you hungry. It makes you want to compete and get better and continue to train.
“When you have those bumps in the road you question if you still have it, and with me to be 37 now, to have three wins in a row now it’s a positive and it helps my confidence build as I chance the title.”
As for his game, Burley feels like he’s continued to make progress, even at an age when others might be thinking of hanging up their gloves.
“I’m definitely feel I’m a better fighter than I was in the past,” Burley said. “I feel my striking is better, (and so is) my wrestling – especially my wrestling. It seems like this last fight I had a few takedowns, control on the ground, stopped submissions, so I definitely feel like my wrestling game is coming along.
“At this point in my career I’m not a world champ, I have losses, so in order to get better, be better, and continue to elevate and win I have to know I can always improve.”
As he advances through the XFC’s welterweight tournament, Burley wouldn’t be blamed if he was looking towards what’s further down the road, but that’s not how he approaches things.
“Really you can’t look past the next fight,” said Burley. “That’s how you lose or get off track or out of place. I try to stay focused on one fight at a time.
“Also learning from this pandemic things can change instantly. You can say you want to fight every three to six months, say you want to do this, say you want to do that, but no, things always change and can be out of your hands when it comes to that. So I just stay focused on one fight at a time and try to get better.”