UFC on ESPN 11: Josh Emmett Reveals Injury Scuttled Plan to Test Free Agency

Meant to be? Were it not for an injury earlier this year, Josh Emmett would have tested the free agent waters.

UFC featherweight Josh Emmett was out just over a year following a crushing knockout at the hands of Jeremy Stephens in February 2018. That’s a sizeable chunk of time out of a fight career, which for the lucky span years, and the very lucky, decades.

Most athletes in MMA want to avoid that sort of downtime as much as possible, especially in their prime. But Emmett has been dogged by stints on the sidelines, something he discussed with Cageside Press during the UFC on ESPN 11 media day. And in a strange way, one of his injuries ensured he remained with the UFC.

“It’s super frustrating. I’ve been in the UFC just over four years now. I’ve been sidelined over two years of that,” he observed. When he returns this weekend in the co-main event against Shane Burgos, it will have been over eleven months since he last fought.

There is a silver lining, however. “I want to stay as active as possible, but it is kind of a blessing in disguise that I got injured with the [Arnold] Allen fight because I was going to fight out my contract and, and who knows where I’d be at this point with the pandemic.”

Allen and Emmett were expected to fight in January. Fate clearly had other ideas. Instead of fighting out his contract, the injury earlier this year put him on the shelf. Ahead of his fight with Burgos, Josh Emmett signed a new deal. After all, the UFC is the only major promotion currently running shows. At least he can compete.

The original plan, however, had been to test the open market. “That’s what I was going to do in January, that’s for sure,” he later added. “But at the end of the day, I want to fight for the UFC. It’s the biggest platform. It’s, in my opinion, the best organization in the world and I only set out to fight in the UFC. From the get go that was a goal of mine. I didn’t want to fight for any other organization. I got offered to, but it was UFC or nothing for me. And I’m here and I’m so close to my one of my goals. So I’m going to keep on going.”

Watch the full UFC on ESPN 11 media day scrum with Josh Emmett above.