Many fighters deny feeling pressure or purposely steer away from it, but not Shane Burgos.
The UFC featherweight contender takes on Josh Emmett on June 20 at an event set to go down at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It’s a significant bout at 145-pounds since it involves two top-10 featherweights – Burgos (13-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) is No. 10 and Emmett No. 8 in the UFC’s official rankings.
The matchup with Emmett is the highest profile bout Burgos has been given in his promising UFC career. He didn’t have to think twice to take the opportunity.
“The UFC just basically came at me and asked me if I wanted this fight, and I said (expletive) yeah, I wanted this fight,’” Burgos told MMAJunkie in a recent interview. “This is exactly what we a planned for – fighting guys ranked ahead of me. I’m (No.) 10, he’s (No.) 8.
“This is a huge fight. Everybody knows who Josh Emmet is. He’s a staple in the division at this point. He’s only been in the division for a little bit, but he’s made his name known. He’s had some big fights and some big wins and I want to leapfrog myself over him.”
Despite the pandemic and the toll it’s had on New York, Burgos said he’s had a pretty close to normal training camp. This will also be the first time he fights in Las Vegas, and he’s excited to throw down in the “Fight Capital of the World.”
The 29-year-old is coming off a TKO victory over Makwan Amirkhani, which improved his current streak to 3-0. With momentum behind him and a big fight ahead, there’s good amount of attention on the bout with Emmet. Moments like this can bring fighters pressure. Some might play it down, but Burgos is doing the opposite.
“I not only have to win, but I have to win emphatically and dramatically,” Burgos said. “Everybody says it, but you have to make a statement. I’m the co-main event spot right now and this is a big spot for me. This is the biggest fight of my UFC career, so I can’t just go out there and get by and get a win. I have to go out there and get a finish for sure.
“Obviously, it’s easier said than done. But I’m embracing the pressure that’s on me and putting all the pressure on me. Even though I might be a small favorite, I’m looking at myself like an underdog and I’m going to go out there and show up and show out.”