Josh Emmett was victorious in a “Fight of the Year” candidate against Shane Burgos in the UFC on ESPN 11 co-main event, but you wouldn’t have known it by listening to him in the aftermath on Saturday night.
“I just have to go back and watch it. In my mind, I’m a tough critic on myself,” Emmett said at the post-fight press conference. “I didn’t get to move. I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do. I use a lot of lateral movement. I really wanted to mix up the wrestling and do a lot of things. I hurt my knee in the first 45 seconds so I felt like I had to just stand there and play sock ‘em, rock ‘em robots and just slip and rip. People are saying it’s a good fight, I guess.
“A lot of journalists, all these guys are counting me out. I see everything. I love it though. Everyone was saying I’m gonna lose. I can beat anyone in the world. That was a horrible fight, in my opinion.”
Emmett was clearly compromised early in the opening stanza, and Burgos capitalized by repeatedly attacking the knee with low kicks throughout the fight. Ultimately, it didn’t prevent the 35-year-old Team Alpha Male representative from flooring his opponent twice in a furious final stanza to emerge with a unanimous decision win.
“I think I overcommitted to a right hand. And I think he kicked my knee when I was coming in and I hyperextended it. It had to be the first minute….It just kept buckling and giving out,” Emmett said. “I never experienced anything like that. I know it’s on the outside. I believe it’s my ACL. That’s what’s going through my mind. I couldn’t move. Anytime I would try to throw a right leg kick, so I had my leg planted on my left, it would buckle. Anytime I would try to lean over and throw uppercuts — I wanted to go to the liver a lot and couldn’t — it would buckle. I had to stand there and throw jabs and overhand rights.
“The first thing going through my mind is, ‘OK this hurts, I can’t move. I’m gonna have to adapt to it.’ My mentality is my strongest part of my game. I’m willing to go through anything to get my hand raised.”
Because of that lack of stability, Emmett says he was unable to showcase everything he wanted to in the fight. More than that, he’s frustrated with the perceived lack of recognition he’s received despite winning five of his last six fights at 145 pounds.
“I feel like if my knee wasn’t messed up I really could have put it on him and went for the finish. I feel like I was kind of coasting. I’m just frustrated about my knee. I’m so pissed about it,” he said.
“I’m just thinking about that because I’ve been off for a year. I want to keep the momentum going, I want to fight. I’m one of the hungriest fighters in the UFC. I’ve never said no to a fight. I’ve never turned a fight down. I want to fight as consistently as possible. But nobody pushes me. They push all these other guys. I can beat anyone in the world. I hope tonight I can start to get some push. I hope the UFC can push me and build me up and do something for me instead of just trying to keep me as a gatekeeper … It’s just so frustrating to me. Besides all that, I’m just frustrated about the knee.”
Emmett entered UFC on ESPN 11 as a mild underdog against Burgos, and he felt slighted by the perception that his opponent was the more technical fighter.
“I just see everyone just counting me out and always voting against me. I’m always the underdog,” Emmett said. “I like it; it motivates me. My friends and fans love it because they’re making a lot of money off me when they bet. There’s politics in everything. People are biased. They have favoritism and all this stuff. It’s just irritating to me. I just want a little push. I think I deserve it. It was power vs. precision and I think power prevailed tonight. I also have a lot of precision with power behind it.”
In addition to Burgos, Emmett’s resume includes finishes of Mirsad Bektic, Ricardo Lamas and Michael Johnson. He believes is should be knocking on the door for a title shot at 145 pounds, though much depends on the long-term prognosis for his knee.
“Shane Burgos is a tough, tough guy. My next fight I want to do some type of title eliminator. I feel I can compete with any of these guys. I know I can. I train with the best team in the world, the best coaches in the world. I know where I stand.”