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UFC on ESPN 11, The Morning After: Josh Emmett stays the path despite extreme adversity

Here’s what you may have missed from last night!

Josh Emmett vs. Shane Burgos was an overwhelmingly wild fight (watch highlights).

In the opening seconds, Emmett shredded his knee in a fluke accident. Yet, in the opening two-minutes, Emmett landed a half-dozen kill shots, the type of overhand swings that have melted durable fighters like Michael Johnson. Burgos walked through them, flicking sharp jabs, attacking that injured leg, and looking to roast ribs.

The two crushed each other with power punches repeatedly over 15 minutes, but Emmett kept landing on the jaw. In fact, it seemed like Emmett grew more accurate in the third round despite the wear-and-tear. Not only did he manage to drop Burgos twice to secure the decision nod, but Emmett did so while targeting the body more often and switching Southpaw to set up his left hook.

It was an immensely impressive and hard-earned win for Emmett. From my experiences training with Emmett at Team Alpha Male (TAM), that’s precisely what the team has come to expect from him.

Before I get anecdotal, a shoutout to Shane Burgos! He mystifies me. I have felt the strength of Emmett in wrestling exchanges, and I know the extreme difficulty of his weight cuts. Somehow, Burgos dwarfed him. I have also seen Emmett assault mitts with such speed and terror that you can feel the residual force. Somehow, Burgos survived those shots and asked for more.

I do not understand how he is still alive, but that guy is awesome.

After pro practices at TAM, it’s not uncommon for Urijah Faber to speak motivationally and update us on current team affairs. In truth, there are roughly six Faber speeches, stories we’ve all heard often enough to recite by heart. The central theme of one such speech is “staying the path,” a discourse on the trials and tribulations of making a living getting punched in the face.

In short, Faber’s message is this: there is no way to succeed without decades of consistent effort. Losses, injuries, life hurdles are all to be expected. They can only be overcome with continued, unerring focus.

Each time the “stay the path” speech arises — which, seriously, is like once per month MINIMUM! — Josh Emmett is the premier example of overcoming adversity. Nothing about his career has been less than difficult. Emmett spent five years dominating the regional scene, but a repeatedly broken hand slowed the process. An absolutely sensational knockout win over UFC veteran Christos Giagos put him at 9-0, but it did not see Emmett receive the UFC call up. He was passed up for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).

Instead, Emmett was signed as an injury replacement on less than a week’s notice against Jon Tuck at 31 years of age. He cruised through that fight until a kick fractured his finger to the point that bone was visible. Emmett circled until the fight ended ... and he won.

Later, Emmett fought Jeremy Stephens in his first main event slot. After a strong first round, Stephens dropped Emmett, followed up with several illegal shots, and destroyed the bones in his face. He nearly lost his eye, underwent extensive surgeries, and it would be a year before Emmett fought again.

Emmett returned in 2019, picking up two knockout wins to announce himself again as a rising contender. However, Emmett was not rushed into a high-profile fight. The opposite in fact, as UFC repeatedly offered foes ranked beneath Emmett, a man who “didn’t have enough Instagram followers to fight Zabit” per UFC brass.

Instead, Emmett fought Shane Burgos, a goddamn animal of a Featherweight and likely the toughest athlete ranked below him. His knee abandoned him in the first minute of the fight. He was kicked in the balls. He still won.

Throughout all the hardship, Emmett is not one to complain or express doubt. He shows up to the gym, works hard, and goes home. He’s a quiet person and fierce competitor. Josh Emmett knows what it means to stay the path long after most would’ve abandoned it. If his ACL is torn, Emmett will recover and continue his unrelenting march.

Until then, following the f*cking guy on Instagram.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC on ESPN 11: “Blaydes Vs. Volkov” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here and play-by-play results right here.

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