XFC MMA fighter LaRue Burley speaks to MMA UK’s Myles Painter ahead of his second-round matchup against Carson Hardman in the welterweight tournament.
Over the course of your professional career, you have fought for various promotions, including stints with Bellator MMA and Legacy Fighting Alliance. How has competing in promotions against high-level competition, preparing you for a promotion like XFC?
Fighting for different promotions has helped me in the sense of knowing you’re knowing my skill. As far as seeing if I really can’t compete at a high level in fighting when you fight the local circuits you tend to know the competition. It’s not as diverse so when you finally fight people from different states and countries you get to see different skill sets and that lets you know if you’re really competing and this is really something you should pursue as far as the ability to chase dreams and being a professional fighter.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
One thing you think about me and nobody knows about is that I look serious, but I’m really not when you get to know me. I’m actually kind of fun I joke and laugh, I’m down to earth. Another thing is that I’ve got a shoe problem. I got a lot of retros; Jordan’s, Nike, and Adidas NMD. That’s about it.
How did you get started in Mixed Martial Arts?
Oh, I got started in MMA messing with my younger brother. He was starting to do the training and he was doing a few Muay Thai fights with a couple of smokers. I think he had maybe one amateur fight and he kept telling me to come to the gym and just train with him to see if I like it. So one day I go in there, and I started doing it, I started taking the classes with them and I got really good really quick, like in the first week I was competing with people who have been training for quite a while. Literally,30 days into the training they put me up against a smoker which I thought was a sparring session, but it was really a fight and I won. I did another smoker a month later and then two to three months later after that, an amateur fight. I had another one and literally on the anniversary of the fight a year later I turned pro and the rest was history.
You are scheduled to take on Carson Hardman in the second round of the XFC Welterweight tournament. How do you envision the fight playing out?
Carson Hardman is a very unorthodox fighter who is very sporadic, pushes the pace, and comes forward. This is going to be a tough fight for sure. Alejandro Sanchez was more of a counter-striker and didn’t push the pace as much, so I was able to utilize my jab and push the pace. I feel like this fight is going to be more of a dog fight because if we both push the pace we got to meet in the middle and something’s got to give. With that being said, he’s got those heavy hands, but I feel like my striking is a lot more technical than his. I guess we’ll find out the rest and who’s got the better wrestling, ground game (if it ends up going there), who has more heart in the end. How do I see this playing out? I see it of course like anybody, with my hand being raised feeling very confident. I took maybe not even a full week off and I was back in the gym lifting, running, then conditioning again. Next week we’re back in the gym starting wrestling, grappling so I mean just staying busy, getting ready so this fight I can come in a lot stronger working on techniques trying to always improve, but I definitely see myself getting this win. I would like to get a TKO or KO a decision or a submission, but as long as I get that win I can’t complain. I’m trying to get to that final, get my hand raised, and get that belt!
How has the pandemic impacted your ability to prepare for fights?
Oh yeah, the pandemic has kind of screwed me up a lot. To be honest, I was kind of done with fighting after my last fight. I tore my PCL in that fight and I had to have surgery. That was a long stint of rehab getting back. By the time I started getting back to where I wanted to be, the virus struck and the gym got closed. So, I sat at home drinking beer, chilling enjoying life. I got out of shape and when I came back into the gym I was like 217. I started getting back in shape a little bit and was down to 203 when my manager called me for the fight. So the last fight was more of me getting in shape and making 170. Now that I’m where I want to be, so you are going to start seeing a better and more improved version of a stronger and faster LaRue!
When it comes to venues, which one is your favourite, and why?
If I had to say a favorite venue, I would probably say it would be Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix, Arizona because of the fact that they brought me in to be a stepping stone for Bubba Jenkins at Bellator 100 and I defeated him via TKO. Back then I was like he can come up with as many excuses as he wants, but if you watch the fight you can see he was outmatched. I would say that was my favourite venue because of the simple fact that I was such a big underdog and I walked out from that fight uninjured with no damage to me. I literally was in the bar at the hotel having a beer when I saw him come in from the hospital with his gown on because he was beaten. they had to take him to the hospital because he took such a punishment.
Besides being in the gym, what are some off-the-clock hobbies?
In the fall I coach my middle son’s football team. We got to the semi-finals and then we lost. It was a great season but, when I’m not doing that I like to stay busy working out at the gym. I had my daughter turn one so I have her a lot and I just like to hang out and relax man spend time with my friends and family and do simple things nothing big or going out. I like to go to a lot of comedy shows. Laughter is always good for when you’re a fighter you have got to be able to laugh. You can’t always be angry.