To be an elite mixed martial artist, one must be truly committed to the sport. Sometimes that means giving up most of what you own in order to further your career. UFC veteran and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 2 alum Josh Burkman made just such a commitment, but he is now on the sidelines healing an injured knee.

“I’ve realized that [younger MMA fighters] now put everything they have into fighting,” the 31-year-old Burkman told “You have to keep yourself in shape between fights. I looked back at my career and realized that I trained for each fight. I didn’t train to be the best. That’s why I got rid of my house, sold a lot of my stuff and put everything aside and focused on training to be the best. I wanted to see how good I can be.”

Burkman (Pictured, File Photo) was training for a fight at Amazon Forest Combat 1 in Brazil in September when the injury occurred.

“I had a fight scheduled, and the camp really went well,” said Burkman, who owns 13 finishes among his 21 professional wins. “It was four days out. I was good weight-wise, and everything was right where I needed it to be, but I got hurt and dislocated my kneecap. I’d finally put it all together and this happened.”

Burkman said he did not immediately realize how badly he was hurt and instead tried to finish the practice session.

“I was doing some kickboxing, then switched to wrestling and ground-and-pound drills,” said Burkman. “During the ground-and-pound, my knee started hurting worse than usual. I got it drained, pushed myself hard at practice the next day and it kept swelling, so I had to pull out of the fight.”

Burkman had torn his patellar tendon and medial retinaculum, in addition to popping a bursa sac in his knee and straining his quadriceps muscle. Burkman’s orthopedic surgeon hoped to avoid surgery and instead placed the fighter on a physical therapy regimen. However, Burkman pushed his rehab too hard and his knee started to swell, drawing his doctor’s ire along with an ultimatum.

“After I had to go see the surgeon again, he gave me one more chance to keep from having surgery,” said Burkman, who holds wins over Josh Neer, Drew Fickett and Chad Reiner. “That was about three weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been resting it and icing my knee. I went and saw the doctor again, and he was impressed with the progress I’d made. He said surgery wasn’t necessary for now, but if it starts swelling again, I’ll need surgery.”

Instead of viewing his injury as coming at the worst possible time, Burkman has instead chosen to look on the bright side when it comes to his forced time off.

“This injury has really mellowed me and helped me see where my career needs to go,” said Burkman. “It’s helped me see how good I might be if I’m really dedicated to the sport. [The injury] has held me back, but everything happens for a reason, and I still think I’m going to get a second chance at the UFC.”

For now, Burkman must play the waiting game. It is one he is willing to play to get another chance at fighting in the Octagon. He last fought in the UFC in October 2008, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Pete Sell.

“It’s a slow process, but I’m getting better every day,” said Burkman. “It’ll be another four to six weeks before I can do much of anything. I’ve talked to some of the people at the UFC, and they would like me to get one more win before I can come back. I want to win another fight, get a UFC contract and show people that I haven’t just been sitting around.

“When fighters get hurt, they talk about coming back better than ever, but I’m hoping to really show that,” he concluded. “But until I can get back in the gym, I’m just going to keep my knee elevated and iced and watch some football.”

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