â€œThe desire to compete and my love for this sport is what propelled me into the cage.â€
Interview by: Richard Burmaster
On November 7th in Houston Texas, at the Legacy Fighting Championshipâ€™s, Kenny Burke will have an opportunity that few are ever afforded.Â The strict diets and the intense workouts that he has endured day after day will have been for this purpose. Â Â All of the hard work and long nights at Westside MMA, bleeding and sweating with his teammates, will finally culminate in this one moment, this ending and this beginning.
On November 7th Kenny Burke will put his amateur career behind him, and begin his career as a professional MMA fighter.Â Itâ€™s a feat that only a select few people will ever accomplish, but if you ask Kenny, itâ€™s just the natural progression of his career. He wasnâ€™t expecting this, but heâ€™s ready for it.
I sat down with Kenny to capture his thoughts before the fight, get his opinions on the sport and find out what makes him tick.
TCD.net: How did you get started in MMA?
Kenny: I got started in MMA by being a fan of the UFC for as long as I can remember. I remember getting letters sent home from middle school for trying out moves on classmates. I wouldnâ€™t say I was a bully, but I always enjoyed a little roughhousing with friends. When I grew up and started to succeed in wrestling followed by kickboxing, I was fortunate to be brought to Westside MMA to truly learn what it was all about.
TCD.net: You mentioned you were a high school wrestler, but you also have a record of 8-0 in San Shou Kickboxing. How much did this background help you with the transition to MMA?
Kenny: The transition to MMA just came along. The desire to compete and my love for this sport is what propelled me into the cage.
TCD.net: Going undefeated as an amateur and winning the Lonestar Beatdown welterweight Title is no small feat. At what point did you realize that you wanted to be a professional fighter?
Kenny: Honestly, the situation had just presented itself. Mick Maynard had asked me if I was looking to make the jump, and he had a good opponent for me. After my scheduled opponent for another title defense had decided to go pro, I figured I should go ahead and test my own skill further.
TCD.net: You are making your pro debut November 7th on the Legacy Fighting Championship card here in Houston. What does it feel like to say you are a pro fighter now?
Kenny: The way I look at it, is that I canâ€™t really say Iâ€™m a pro fighter until November 8th. However, it does feel pretty good knowing that I am in a special group of guys that put in the hard work necessary to compete on a pro level.
TCD.net: Even with a background of kickboxing, you closed out your amateur career with 2 title defenses that you won by submission. What feels better a KO or a submission?
Kenny: I like to win. Whatever it takes to make that happen is what will always feel best to me. I do like the feeling of winning by submission though, since I have the least experience in BJJ.
TCD.net: Westside MMA has many top level coaches with a laundry list of achievements. What is it like to have those types of resources behind you?
Kenny: Itâ€™s EVERYTHING. Coach Paul Thomas and Brandon Mullins, both Black Belts in BJJ, are the reason weâ€™ve been racking up wins and titles both on the mat and in the cage. We also have a world champion kickboxing coach and pro MMA fighter in Alex Cisne at our side at all times. Itâ€™s always great to have guys who have been in your same position behind you.
TCD.net: You are the strength and conditioning coach at Westside MMA. How do you feel when you see your teammates succeed?
Kenny: Man, as confident as I am in my teammates, itâ€™s always difficult to watch them fight without being nervous. It gives you the chills to watch them succeed. We now hold 3 ammy titles and I believe another one is on the way when T. (Terrance Ferguson) gets his shot on Nov 15th at the House of Blues.
TCD.net: Your opponent Arron Barringer has not fought in 4 years. Do you think the time away from the cage will work in your favor?
Kenny: We’ll have to see. I know Arron has been working really hard to get his ring rust, if any, handled. I also know heâ€™s had a lot more experience as a professional fighter than I have.
TCD.net: Youâ€™re dropping from 170 to 155 for this fight. What brought on this decision?
Kenny: I think itâ€™s a better weight for me. Like most fighters, Iâ€™d rather be a bigger guy at 155 at a pro level, than what I feel would be a smaller guy at 170. It also helped me change my work ethic, having to work harder to make the weight and also feeling lighter and faster in all aspects of my game.
TCD.net: Any advice for young fighters just now starting?
Kenny: Yeah. Stick to your game plan Kenny.Â Do what you know youâ€™re capable of, and never second guess your ability. As you can see, I feel Iâ€™m just starting off.
TCD.net: Anything you would like to say to your opponent Arron Barringer?
Kenny: Yes actually. Itâ€™s always nicer to dislike your opponent and try to shut them up, but honestly, after reading his interview that couldnâ€™t be further from the truth. I like his attitude, and appreciate his respectful comments towards me. His one wish was for me to lay it all on the line as would he, so as a sign of my respect to him, Iâ€™ll do just that. Plus, WTF, two Irish guys from upstate/western NY? Oh and If he puts my Jameson’s in an Irish Car Bomb, invitation accepted!
TCD.net: Anything you would like to say to your friends and family?
Kenny: Mom, Iâ€™ll call you when itâ€™s over (smiles). Â She worries a bit. My friends know I’ll be fine, and Iâ€™ll do my best.
TCD.net: Motto you live by?
Kenny: Iâ€™d like to thank Paul Thomas, Brandon Mullins, Rick Mango, Alex Cisne, Aaron Pena, and of course my whole Westside Fight Team.