Burns' return is for the fans
Preview by Brady Crytzer
On Saturday, June 20th the Ultimate Fighting Championship offers up some much needed closure in the ongoing battle between the USA and UK at live finale of The Ultimate Fighter 9 live of SpikeTV. Against the backdrop of the Trans-Atlantic slugfest lays a cast of some of the UFC most promising talent, veterans and newcomers alike. Amongst the undercard bouts is the highly anticipated welterweight clash between the all-action slugger Chris Lytle and Iowa native Kevin Burns. Though he is coming off of his first UFC loss, Burns is confident that his Octagon future is still a bright one.
“My last fight was a wake up call,” Burns said.
In his UFC debut, Burns, with six professional fights to his credit, took on one of the division’s most dangerous jiu jitsu aces in Roan Carneiro. With the deck stacked against him, Burns made the long journey to London with one thing on his mind.
“It all happened so fast,” Burns admitted. “My manager said ‘you have a fight in nine days’ and I didn’t care who it was. I watched most of my film (on Carneiro) while I was in London.”
“Everyone talks about ‘Octagon Jitters’ and I didn’t want that to be a factor. The whole week leading up to the fight I just focused on keeping things in perspective. During the fight, the triangle just presented itself to me. I planned on keeping it standing.”
The blue belt tapped out the black belt in his UFC debut, and he hardly skipped a beat.
In his second bout, Burns squared off with knockout artist Anthony Johnson in a highly disputed bout that ended after a finger to the eye of Johnson ended the fight prematurely. Five months later, the two rookies met again, this time at the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 8.
“I requested the fight,” Burns said. “I wanted to put it behind me. The easy way would’ve been for each of us to move on and fight other people. I enjoyed our first fight. We fought at a fast pace and the fight was highly athletic.”
After two rounds of action fought at a furious pace it appeared that the welterweight contest had a chance of going to the judges’ scorecards. Suddenly, just :33 seconds into the final round, the athletic Johnson launched a kick into the face of Burns.
For the first time in his career, Kevin Burns had felt the losing end of a highlight reel knockout.
“I got caught,” Burns said. “I worked in sales for most of my career, and I approach watching films the same way as I would when I review a sales call. I take an objective look at myself.”
“I saw that my footwork really needed work. I have been working on my striking to better myself, not just for this fight.”
Now, just over six months later, Burns returns to the Octagon with a rejuvenated hunger to take on former professional boxer Chris Lytle. With a nickname like “Lights Out,” Burns is well aware of his opponent’s ability to end fights suddenly. But is he worried?
“Lytle has so much experienced,” Burns said. “In terms of watching film, there is nothing that I can try that hasn’t been tried by someone else. What I can do is watch how he reacts in different situations. On that same note, he really won’t have a lot of film on me. He is a tough kid. He is a good striker and has a chin like a cinder block. I think he is most vulnerable on his back.”
With nine professional fights under his belt, none of which had gone to a judges’ decision, the future remains bright for Burns. Whether it be his fighting style or his attitude, win or lose fans will remember Kevin Burns.
“Chris isn’t known to shoot on people, and I don’t plan on shooting. This one is for the fans.”