Steve Carl (19-3) sees a big gap between himself and his upcoming opponent, Tyson Steele (10-1), if his experience in the sport is any indication.

“When I had his record, my mental ability wasn’t 10 percent of what it is now,” Carl told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “If his mental (ability) is more built up, hey, more power to him. But I know when I was in his situation, I wasn’t ready to fight somebody like me.”

The World Series of Fighting welterweights meet in the co-main event of WSOF 3, which takes place tonight at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The event’s main card airs live on NBC Sports Network (11 p.m. ET) following prelims on MMAjunkie.com (8:30 p.m. ET).

Carl, who’s won his past five bouts, has double the number of pro fights as Steele. Over eight years in the sport, he said he’s learned some valuable lessons about what it takes to compete. He also knows how to spot guys who don’t have it.

“If a guy comes off trying to act tough or not genuine, or if he’s trying to intimidate you in any way, I know, they, this guy is terrified,” he said. “Because why do you have to come off as a pr–k like that? You can just be a nice guy to everybody.”

So far, he hasn’t gotten that vibe from Steele, who’s won his past four and has only one setback in his pro career. But like him, Steele doesn’t come from a well-known MMA camp, and earlier in his career, he felt overwhelmed fighting on big promotional platforms.

A submission loss to Dan Hornbuckle under the Bellator banner sticks out to Carl, who said he spent the night prior to the event reading predictions that he was going to get dominated.

“I went in there already losing the fight before I got in the cage,” he said. “I was overwhelmed by all the media, and I just went in there thinking, ‘I can’t win this. I’m just a small-town guy from Iowa.’ During the fight, I was reading. I wasn’t reacting like I should.”

Through that experience, Carl said he discovered he was short-changing himself before he ever stepped in the cage.

“I went around to a lot of bigger camps, and that was part of my realization was training with those guys and knowing that I can compete with them,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m going to dominate everybody, but I’m not going to get dominated.”

Now, Carl uses positive pressure to keep himself from the fear that he might suffer a career slide.

“Like I know I want to keep doing this, and I don’t want to take a step back,” he said.

Carl, of course, can’t know whether Steele has learned these lessons in a shorter timeframe. It could be that he trains with champions, doesn’t let the moment overwhelm him, and uses that sole loss to remind him that he never wants to move backward in his career. That’s what he’ll find out on tonight.

With WSOF welterweights Jon Fitch and Josh Burkman headlining WSOF 3 to decide the division’s No. 1 contender, it’s possible that the winner of Carl’s fight will be in line to fight for the title.

That means the small-town guy from Iowa could be thrust into the spotlight pretty soon. But this time, he said he’s ready for it.

For the latest on WSOF 3, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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