Following his last bout in February, 2018, welterweight veteran Josh Burkman thought he had maybe fought for the last time.
A nagging neck injury seemingly had put an end to Burkman’s career, but following a successful surgery combined with fortuitous timing, he’s once again ready to step into the cage.
“The bone spurring was so bad it went into the nerve roots in my neck and started to pinch those nerves completely off,” Burkman told MMAWeekly.com. “When they went in and did that surgery, they were able to get those bone spurs out of there and it was instant relief. After that, I started to train again, but more like rehab, and it went really good.
“I was asked to do a grappling tournament, and I felt good and had a really good experience with that. I’d like to end my career better than it ended. I was kind of waiting and just training and the LFA said they were coming to town and asked if I wanted to fight, and it felt like the right time to (return).”
Having an opportunity to fight in Utah and with his family around helped seal Burkman’s decision to fight at least one more time before calling it a career.
“I don’t know that I’m trying to make a big comeback,” said Burkman. “I’m 39 years old. I’ve been doing this for 16 years. This will by 48th professional fight.
“I think my boys will remember this. I have a six-year-old and a four-year-old. That makes it cool for me to be able to fight in front of my hometown and have my kids be a part of it. It will make it a good experience if I decide to make this my last one.”
This Friday in West Valley City, Utah, Burkman (28-17) returns to action to face William Macario (9-4) in the welterweight co-main event of LFA 66.
“I didn’t want to face an opponent that wasn’t a worthy opponent, and the LFA got me William and he’s tough,” Burkman said. “He definitely comes to fight. He’s trying to get back into the UFC, back to the highest level of the game, and I’m excited to face him.
“I guarantee we’ll both come out and put on a show for my hometown. I feel really good. I think I’ve got a chance to finish this fight in the first round. I still think I’m a very good martial artist and I think I can still compete at a high level.”
Burkman returns with no expectations other than to enjoy the moment and go from there. If this is his last fight or just the first on a comeback trail, Burkman will be satisfied either way.
“If I do really well and it’s a good experience then I would like to do more,” said Burkman. “I’d really like to get to 50 fights. But if it doesn’t go my way, then it’s okay.
“For me, when the fighting is over the journey is not done. The year and a half I’ve been off, I’ve really gained more love for martial arts; teaching martial arts; teaching my students and building students. I’m real excited for that next phase.”