Fresh off his stunning win at WSOF 9, Josh Burkman has done a 180 regarding the promotion he called home for the last year and a half. He took to Twitter earlier this evening to express his discontent and ask for a release from his current contract, which still has one bout left on it.
Among the grievances he made public was the current personal issues he has with WSOF matchmaker, Ali Abdel-Aziz. I spoke with Aziz just a few minutes ago, who gave his side of the story. Here's what he had to say:
We found Josh Burkman and brought him to the WSOF, with the promise to give him some fights, which we did. We gave him 5 fights in 16 months. He got paid more collectively than anybody we have. He got treated like royalty. We gave him extra tickets for his family. We made him the face of the company. Other fighters would even complain about how well he was treated.
He wasn't even supposed to fight on this card. It was supposed to be David Branch, but he contacted my partner saying he needed to fight because he needed the money. They made the agreement between them. I had nothing to do with it.
So he fought, and got paid more show money than he was supposed to get paid. He agreed to that amount of money, which is the most he ever got paid from us, and that was coming off a loss.
Then, I find out today, that he contacted the UFC. Every fighter dreams of going to the UFC, and I understand that. Anthony Johnson finished out his contract and asked us to please not match the UFC's offer, so we didn't. We wished him the best of luck, and let him know he will always have a home with us. We will do the same with Josh, when the time comes.
He has one more fight left on his contract. I told my partner, ‘He wants to be in the UFC, but he's at least got to beat UFC level talent, and that's Palhares and Fitch. He should fight Palhares or Jon Fitch if he ends up winning. Personally, I think nobody wants to fight Palhares. He's a tough match-up for anybody.
Do I like Josh Burkman? Of course I do. Does he like me? I really don't care, because if he doesn't, there are other people in the company that can deal with him in my place. Ray Sefo's tweet was not meant in the spirit of a breakdown at WSOF. He was simply saying that if Josh had a problem with me, there were other people within the company that could work with him.
We'll keep you posted with updates as they come in.
*Edited to reflect the removal of Gerald Harris' name, as Mr. Abdel-Aziz says it was just Branch that was set to fight on the card.*