“The People’s Warrior” Josh Burkman traveled on quite the road to get to his bout with Gerald Harris this Saturday.

For Burkman, it started with a 9-1 record compiled through 2003. Two years later, Burkman found himself as part of The Ultimate Fighter 2—and eventually, the UFC roster. Now, Burkman owns a 5-1 streak in his last six bouts, and he exudes excitement as he prepares to face fellow Harris this Saturday.

“I’m excited,” Burkman told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “I feel that [training] camp went good, and the closer the fight gets for me, the more excited I get to fight.”

Of course, it should come as little surprise that Burkman’s excitement is a result of “the fun part” of the fight game. Most will admit that the most gratifying moments come on fight night, when they’re done preparing for the bout and they actually get to throw down. For Burkman, this is no different, as he finally gets to fight for the world to witness live in Las Vegas, and against a fellow UFC veteran in Harris, no less.

Burkman (R) delivers a head kick (Lester Muranaka/Sherdog)

Harris is a name familiar to many due to a very impressive ten-fight winning streak capped off by a thunderous knockout slam to David Branch on the preliminaries of UFC 116. Since that slam, Harris has gone 4-2 with all six fights ending on the judges’ scorecards. In those six outings, Harris lost unanimous decisions to James Head and current Bellator middleweight contender Maiquel Falcao and won unanimous decisions over Anthony Ruiz and Eric Davila. Harris also earned wins over Mike Bronzoulis and Kazuhiro Nakamura, though those wins came by split decision.

Burkman can relate. He’s had two stretches in his career where decisions became all too familiar of an outcome. Between 2006 and 2008, Burkman stood in the Octagon awaiting the reading of the scorecards. Three times, he was awarded the win, but twice, he wasn’t so fortunate. More recently, Burkman experienced a four-fight run of decisions. He claimed victory on three of those occasions.

“More than [the decisions],” Burkman said, “I think—you know, I went through a run where I went to a few decisions and I needed to start wanting to finish fights—and so I try to think he doesn’t want to go to a decision, nor do I.”

One thing Burkman does know right off the bat about Harris, above all else, comes in the form of one important fact as it pertains to Harris’ 25-fight career: Harris has lost four times, but he has not been stopped since a 2007 loss to Benji Radach. In short, Harris does not go down without some sort of fight.

“I need to make sure that I’m also winning rounds and not letting him get a decision on me, because it seems like the guys that are fighting him—they’re having a tough time putting him in bad positions,” Burkman explained.

In just about every aspect of the fight game, Harris will present a tougher challenge than any foe Burkman has fought since coming off an injury that kept him shelved for about a year and a half. Though the injury initially prevented him from putting in the hours in his camp as he wanted to, it did rejuvenate the fire that most fans saw in Burkman throughout his early career.

As if a recent two-fight winning streak could not add to that rejuvenation, Burkman found added inspiration not only in the support of his wife, but also in the birth of his son, Legend. Whereas some fighters would relocate to an isolated area in which to focus, Burkman receives inspiration from embracing his family..

“He’s just brought so much into my life,” Burkman admitted. “He’s given me so much more to fight for. It’s not about just trying to be a good fighter, it’s about providing a life for my little boy. Being married has made me more fulfilled than I’ve ever been…it’s just made me so much better at what I do.”

Burkman (R) connects with a right hand (Lester Muranaka/Sherdog)

As much as the motivation of his wife and his son will help make for another inspiring effort, Burkman also felt excited about everything he had been doing, even before “Sugar” Ray Sefo signed him to the World Series of Fighting. But ultimately, what may motivate him the most comes in the fact of his placement on the card. Though fans will not need to pay a dime to watch Burkman vs. Harris, the bout was originally meant to be viewed on a different type of convenient home screen.

“I feel like this is the time,” Burkman said. “And you know, I was supposed to be on the main card, and they pulled me off the main card. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth with the new organization, and so I’m going to go in there and I’m going to do my job against Gerald Harris, and then I don’t know what I am going to do, to be honest with you.”

At this point, fans may debate whether a win over Harris will result in Burkman finding future dates with the World Series of Fighting or if it will somehow drive Burkman to converse more and more with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. In any event, Burkman knows what must happen for fans to see him more in the future with the WSOF.

“I don’t know if I want to stay with them or go back over to the UFC,” Burkman said. “They’ve got to make it right for me to want to stick in this organization, and I know it’s a little bold of me to say that right now, going into this fight, but I believe in myself and I believe in where I’m headed, and I expect to be treated right.

“That needs to be rectified with the World Series of Fighting or else I’ll end up leaving the organization.”

Josh would like to thank the people at the WSOF, who do a great job running the show, his team, his coaches, his family, his sponsors the fans, and outlets like The MMA Corner that allow fighters like himself to get their word out.

Photo: “The People’s Warrior” Josh Burkman (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.