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UFC Fight Night -- Josh Emmett, Shane Burgos live up to the hype with epic brawl

By Brett Okamoto

LAS VEGAS -- Going into Saturday's UFC Fight Night, the MMA world was abuzz over a featherweight co-main event between Josh Emmett and Shane Burgos. And boy, did it live up to the hype.

Emmett (16-2) and Burgos (13-2) combined for an incredibly entertaining affair inside the UFC's Apex facility, with Emmett ultimately pulling off a unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Emmett, following an exhilarating third round in which he knocked Burgos down twice.

The result was especially impressive, considering Emmett appeared to injure his left knee in the opening minute of the fight. Emmett, 35, was a little unstable on his left leg from that moment on, but that did not prevent him from throwing his signature power punches throughout all three rounds.

Burgos, of New York, wore Emmett's shots well -- almost unbelievably well -- during the first and second rounds. He routinely walked through Emmett's overhand right to apply pressure and land his own offense. Burgos might have noticed Emmett's compromised knee, as he targeted his legs with low kicks. He also popped him multiple times with a quick, clever lead right hand Emmett didn't see coming.

According to UFC Stats, Burgos actually out-landed Emmett in total strikes 155 to 121, although Emmett's appeared to cause more damage. He knocked Burgos down with a short left hand just moments into the third round, and again at the end of the round with another left hook. Burgos survived the two knockdowns, even smiled during the first one, but they definitely cost him the round.

"I was so close in 2018, I was ranked fourth in the world, I had a small hiccup [loss to Jeremy Stephens] and had to reset, restart and work my way back up," Emmett said. "I was one shot away from the title. I feel like I'm there right now, I feel like my next fight could be for a title eliminator, get a big win there and then I'll fight for the title. That's what I'm gunning for. I want to fight one more time this year at least and then really make a run at that title in early '21.

"I said I'm willing to go through anything just to get my hand raised, and I mean it. I think a lot of people in my position, what I just experienced, would have just quit. In the first like 45 seconds, I think I blew my ACL and it was just giving out, I've never experienced anything like that. It was painful, but the first thing in my mind was I just have to adapt to it and fight on one leg. I'm not going home with half a check, so I'm going to bite down on my mouthpiece, dig deep and that's exactly what I did. I just felt like I kinda stood there. You watch a lot of my fights, I use a lot of movement and lateral movement, I felt like I just couldn't so I had to stand there and play sock 'em, rock 'em robots."

Emmett hopes to get an MRI as soon as Monday.

Fighting out of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California, Emmett has now won five of his past six bouts, three via knockout.

Burgos saw his three-fight win streak snapped.


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