Josh Burkman put Jon Fitch to sleep in 41 seconds. | Photo: Dave Mandel/

The rematch could not have played out any better for Josh Burkman.

“The People’s Warrior” spoiled the ballyhooed promotional debut of the world-ranked Jon Fitch and choked the American Kickboxing Academy export unconscious with a first-round guillotine in the World Series of Fighting 3 headliner on Friday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Fitch (24-6-1, 0-1 WSOF) went limp 41 seconds into round one, submitted for the first time in more than a decade.

“I had so much support going into this fight. It was overwhelming,” said Burkman, who became the first man to submit Fitch since Mike Pyle turned the trick in July 2002. “I have a great team, great coaches. My performances are just a reflection of the way I live my life.”

Burkman (26-9, 3-0 WSOF) floored the 35-year-old Fort Wayne, Ind., native with a short right hook during their initial exchange and moved immediately to the choke. Soon after, Fitch blacked out, Burkman released him and stood with his right arm raised in triumph.

“I got a little overconfident in my choke defense,” said Fitch, who tapped out Burkman with a rear-naked choke in their first encounter back in 2006 under the Ultimate Fighting Championship banner. “He locked it in too tight. It was a mistake on my part. I should have fought the choke right away.”

Carl Choke Submits Steele

Photo: D. Mandel/

Carl tapped out Steele in round one.

Bellator MMA veteran Steve Carl submitted Tyson Steele with a first-round rear-naked choke in the welterweight co-main event. Steele (10-2, 1-1 WSOF) conceded defeat 92 seconds into round one, his four-fight winning streak a thing of the past.

Carl (20-3, 2-0 WSOF) swarmed the Canadian upstart with punches and kicks, pancaked him on a failed takedown attempt and capitalized on the subsequent opening. The 28-year-old Belle Plaine, Iowa, native shifted to Steele’s back, trapped his left arm between his legs and threaded the rear-naked choke for the finish.

Carl has submitted each of his past six opponents inside one round.

“I wanted to mix it up a little bit more,” he said. “You could tell he wasn’t too comfortable on the feet with me. It was really too easy, so I took it.”

Photo: D. Mandel/

Volkmann cruised past Beerbohm.

Volkmann Cruises Past Beerbohm

Takedowns, superior scrambling ability and an airtight ground game carried UFC castaway Jacob Volkmann to a unanimous decision against Lyle Beerbohm in a lightweight showcase. All three judges sided with Volkmann (16-4, WSOF): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

Beerbohm (21-3, 0-1 WSOF) executed virtually nothing of note from an offensive standpoint. Stuck in an endless gauntlet of clinches and scrambles, the Strikeforce alum spun his wheels for much of the 15-minute affair.

In the third round, Volkmann transitioned to Beerbohm’s back, trapped “Fancy Pants” in a body triangle and ran through a series of rear-naked choke attempts. Though all failed, they provided an effective exclamation point for the Minnesotan.

The defeat snapped Beerbohm’s six-fight winning streak.

Gaethje Leg Kicks Stop Cobb

Photo: D. Mandel/

Gaethje chopped Cobb down with low kicks.

Undefeated Grudge Training Center prospect Justin Gaethje put away Brian Cobb with an accumulation of leg kicks in the third round of their competitive lightweight matchup. Cobb (20-8, 1-1 WSOF), who entered the cage with wins in five of his past six appearance, succumbed to the kicks 2:19 into round three.

Gaethje (9-0, 2-0 WSOF) struggled for much of the bout. Cobb struck for a takedown in the first round, moved to mount and ultimately flattened out the 24-year-old Safford, Ariz., native before threatening him with a rear-naked choke.

Gaethje survived and continued to target his adversary’s leg. The investment paid off a little more than halfway through the third round, as Cobb could no longer stand on his left leg, retreated to the cage and indicated a desire to see the action halted.

Sanders Grinds Down Smith

Photo: D. Mandel/

Smith was no match for Sanders.

Well-timed takedowns, a suffocating top game and moderate ground-and-pound spurred Jerrod Sanderson to a unanimous verdict over Jeff Smith in an undercard battle at 145 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for Sanders (13-2, 1-0 WSOF), a onetime NCAA All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University who has rattled off 11 consecutive wins.

Sanders moved to a dominant position in all three frames and weathered a knockdown in the second. His efforts left Smith (10-2, 0-1 WSOF) visibly frustrated.

Anchored at an American Top Team affiliate in Oklahoma City, Sanders was at his best in the third round. There, he delivered another takedown, grinded on Smith from side control and moved briefly to mount.

Photo: D. Mandel/

Lauzon dominated Gunderson for 15 minutes.

Lauzon Extends Winning Streak

Dan Lauzon made a strong first impression in his promotional debut, as he cruised to a unanimous nod over John Gunderson in undercard clash at 155 pounds. Lauzon (17-4, 1-0 WSOF), the younger brother of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 semifinalist Joe Lauzon, swept the scorecards by identical 30-27 marks, as he extended his winning streak to five fights.

Gunderson (34-15-2, 0-1 WSOF) was on the defensive from the word go.

Lauzon repeatedly backed the 34-year-old into the cage, smothering him with a variety of strikes, from stout straight lefts to slashing standing elbows. Outside of a first-round takedown, Gunderson was never a factor in the match.

Beebe Hands Murphy First Defeat

Photo: D. Mandel/

Beebe took a controversial decision.

“The Ultimate Fighter” alum Carson Beebe won for the eighth time in nine outings, as he leaned on takedowns, an active top game and superb submission defense in procuring a unanimous decision over previously undefeated bantamweight prospect Joe Murphy. All three judges arrived at the same verdict: 29-28 for Beebe (14-2, 1-0 WSOF).

Though he spent plenty of time on his back, Murphy (6-1, 0-1 WSOF), a Cleber Luciano protégé, made life difficult for his opponent.

He threatened Beebe with guillotine and arm-triangle chokes in the first round and locked down a tight anaconda choke in the third. His attempts went for naught, however, and the judges elected to side with Beebe, the younger brother of former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Chase Beebe.

Bulgarian Mladenov Downs Miree

Photo: D. Mandel/

Mladenov outpointed Miree on all three cards.

Unbeaten Bulgarian wrestler Krasimir Mladenov kept his perfect professional record intact, as he earned a unanimous decision over Blackzilians export Kendrick Miree in a preliminary middleweight tilt. All three cageside judges ruled in favor of Mladenov (10-0, 1-0 WSOF): 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.

Neither man seemed willing to seize the fight by the horns, but Mladenov’s aggression and dogged pursuit of the takedown seemed to put him over the top. Miree (5-1, 0-1 WSOF) denied many of his foe’s advances but mounted little in terms of meaningful offense and came up
short on the scorecards.

Photo: D. Mandel/

Hansen slipped by a game Montalvo.

Hansen Outduels Wand Fight Team’s Montalvo

Takedowns, ground-and-pound and the occasional guard pass carried Hawaiian prospect Brensen Hansen to a unanimous verdict over Wand Fight Team representative Josh Montalvo in an undercard scrap at 145 pounds.

All three cageside judges scored it for Hansen (5-1, 2-0 WSOF): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.

Hansen did his best work in the first and third rounds, where he neutralized the 25-year-old San Benito, Texas, native with takedowns and an effective top game.

He put an exclamation point on his third straight win in the final frame, as he secured another takedown an opened a gnarly facial cut on Montalvo (0-1, 0-1 WSOF) with an elbow from the top.

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