Josh Burkman’s return to the UFC should be received as a tale of redemption.

The 34 year old, who first left the organization in 2008, has reinvented himself in smaller pastures, most notably the WSOF. Having won nine of his last eleven fights, Burkman now returns to MMA’s upper echelons, faced with the unenviable task of facing top welterweight contender Hector Lombard, at a time when no else seems prepared to face ‘Showeather’.

What should be a positive story of Burkman forging a road back to the grandest stage has been skewed by a tweet he posted on October 3. The former WSOF welterweight title contender wrote:

“Evrybody knws I lost that fight to get out of my contract. No 1 releases champions. Only one belt counts, tht’s why r bitter; )”

The unsubtle implication that Burkman threw a fight to make it back to the UFC is both sensational and illogical. In response to the ensuing backlash, the XXX released a follow-up tweet to explain the comedic sentiment behind his message:

“@mmaencyclopedia #sarcasm 2 Askren 4 saying I got beat up. I won my next fight and signed a new 3 fight deal after that. Think about?”

There are several factors that suggest Burkman was simply trying to be humorous: He passed out to the chokehold that ended his WSOF title fight with Steve Carl and lost late in the fight; two elements that rarely equate to receiving a UFC contract and offer little incentive in the process.

Twitter is without doubt one of the strongest tools of communication and promotion in existence today, but this power can quickly translate to volatile hostility unless one thinks carefully before hitting the ‘Tweet’ button.

Burkman’s true error lies in his failure to understand the potential interpretations of his sentiments over Twitter’s text based platform, a common PR mistake that combined with sensitive subject matter to create a pretty heavy media backlash. Nuances of sarcasm cannot always be detected in the written word.

The MMA subculture is an emotive one. It is the sport’s intensity and the passion of its competitors that draw people, after all. When Burkman made playful comments suggesting he threw the fight, intense reaction from media and fans followed because this action—fictional or not—defied the fundamental element of competitiveness that underpins MMA and is held in high esteem by its followers.

To someone who does not compete regularly, the idea of joking about that time when you lost consciousness is scandalous; potentially catalysing the negative reaction Burkman received. Many viewers leapt to the defence of Burkman, redirecting antipathy towards the source of the story, labelling it as an attempt to gain viewers and create controversy out of nothing.

To envisage the Nevada State Commission dedicating resources to investigating one poorly written tweet seems ludicrous on the surface. Then again, the NSC has set new benchmarks for erratic behaviour in recent times. One also hopes these events won’t ward off overly cautious sponsors for Burkman either.

In all likelihood, the episode will breeze over by the week’s end, confined to the lengthy archives of social media mishaps that seem to arise out of MMA personalities on a daily basis. Nevertheless, ‘Burkmangate’, as ridiculous as it might be, sends a strong message across the industry on the importance of a good proofread.

About The Author

Aidan O'Connor
Staff Writer

A native of Maidstone, England, Aidan has been covering MMA in a news or feature capacity since 2010. In addition to writing for The MMA Corner, Aidan also runs the MMAmusing Twitter account and enjoys the sport as an avid enthusiast. A graduate in English and American Studies, he currently works in marketing and public relations.