by John Morgan on Sep 19, 2008 at 9:40 am ET
Much of the MMA world was taken aback when the Nevada State Athletic Commission recently elected to leave Kevin Burns' (7-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) controversial July TKO victory over fellow welterweight Anthony Johnson unchanged.
After repeated warnings throughout the bout by referee Steve Mazzagatti for Burns to be cautious of repetitive eye pokes, a final third-round blow crumpled Johnson to the mat. Mazzagatti did not initially see the illegal strike, and Burns was awarded a much-maligned victory.
But as Burns recently told MMAjunkie.com
), regardless of the NSAC's opinion on the matter, the Iowa native is prepared to correct the matter in his own manner.
"To be honest with you, I was kind of impartial," Burns said about Johnson's appeal with the commission. "[The NSAC] had the right and the ability to do what they wanted as far as making the appeal. I didn't have adverse feelings either way.
"I guess what's really going to be the true-tell sign at the end of the day is when we meet in the cage again, and we have a chance to compete against each other. Then the fans will get to see what they wanted to see, and we'll get to make it right."
Burns said he believes the strange ending to the bout was as frustrating for him as it was for Johnson.
"I hated more the way the fight ended than probably Anthony did," Burns said. "It didn't really come up to par. I'm not that kind of competitor.
"I would have rather been knocked out, personally, than to win like that."
Burns has received considerable flak from critics since the "Ultimate Fight Night: Silva vs. Irvin" bout. The even-keeled fighter said he's doing his best to tune out the negativity.
"Everybody's got their opinions," Burns acknowledged. "I can't really hold a ton of weight in it to the fact that I've got to train and compete and get back in that cage. If I let that stuff bother me or get me -- the way people perceive me -- it'll eat at you.
"I know that if I get back in that cage -- whenever I have a chance to be in there again -- and fight to my potential, the fans will see that and they'll forget about the inadvertent eye poke from July. Hopefully people will turn their opinions around, but I can't control what they think."
Burns said he has been somewhat frustrated by what he perceives as fans' misconception of the reason behind the blows in question.
"I think there was some misconception from that night," Burns said. "My hand, I could make a closed fist. I just didn't have the ability to hit with it because the bone wasn't fused completely. It was to a point where I could grab just fine. I could do a lot. I could probably hit something with a close fist. But pretty much the second I hit something remotely solid, it was going to be really, really broken again.
"It was just a thing where [the bones] wouldn't fuse. I had been wearing a bone stimulator, and my doctor said, 'If you can not have that impact, then you should be good to go.' So I completely adjusted my game and started throwing palm strikes -- which is an extreme disadvantage. I did what I had to do competing-wise."
After the bout, Burns was further confused by several MMA bloggers' comments on his tactics.
"I read a couple of the blogs online," Burns admitted. "I kind of laughed to myself. They were like, 'It's an extreme advantage that he was able to palm strike.' I'm like, 'Then why isn't everybody doing it?'"
Burns also said the injuries that lead to the eye pokes have been fully healed, and that fans should not anticipate a repeat performance.
"Fortunately my hand has fused," Burns said. "I'm really looking forward to using it again. It's been awhile since I've been able to be completely effective with my standup and use all my tools. Now I have the ability to do it, and I won't be giving up three inches of reach."
With the issues in the open -- and Johnson left with a loss on his record -- Burns said he is ready to grant another opportunity for "Rumble" to prove his loss was a fluke. And while nothing is set in stone, Burns acknowledged the UFC has mentioned the possibility of promoting the bout.
"I know there's been talks of it," Burns said of the rematch. "I haven't seen anything that's official, but I'm definitely wanting that to happen.
"I think the fans deserve that. It's kind of crappy how it ended. I want to do the right thing and make it right."