Underdog Steve Carl is World Series of Fighting’s first-ever champion, claiming the promotion’s inaugural welterweight belt with a fourth-round technical submission of Josh Burkman.
The fight served as the headlining contest of Saturday’s World Series of Fighting 6 event, which took place at BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla. The evening’s main card aired on NBC Sports Network following prelims that streamed on MMAjunkie.com.
After a few exchanges on the feet, the two moved into the clinch, where Burkman eventually elevated Carl and threw him to the floor. However, Carl refused to sty on the floor, working back to his feet and pushing away. He then moved back inside, looking for the trip, but Burkman scored with a slick reversal and scored top position.
The second round played out on the feet in the early going, with Burkman defending a few early takedown attempts and countering with strikes. However, Carl finally brought his opponent down just past the halfway mark of the frame and then pounding away with punches from the top.
Both fighters seemed to tire a bit heading into the third frame, but Carl dug deep and brought the action again to the canvas, quickly pushing himself into mount. As Burkman turned, Carl locked in a rear-naked choke that reddened his opponent’s face. Still, Burkman worked hard to pull the arm free and eventually worked into a guillotine choke of his own. He rolled to the top to torque the hold, but it was Carl’s turn to break the lock and survive a tight choke.
As the fighters moved into the championship rounds, a scrappy Carl settled on to his back and locked in a triangle choke. As Carl squeezed the hold, Burkman offered a small tap, but referee Troy Waugh waited to step in until “The People’s Warrior” was unconscious 62 seconds into the fourth round.
Despite proving victorious, Carl admitted after the fight that he was disappointed and blamed a lingering issue for slowing him in the contest.
“I felt like I could have performed a lot better, but there’s something not a lot of people know,” Carl said after the win. “Two weeks ago I was in the emergency room with torn muscles and a bulging disc in my back, unable to walk. My last two weeks have been nothing but rest and rehab to get here. I was bound and determined to take this fight, and I’m not really happy with my performance.
“I was so tired I wanted to quit there a couple times. Josh is a really game opponent, and he kept bringing it. Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it for a while. My cornermen just kept pushing me through it, and here we are. We did it.”
Moraes makes quick work of Beebe
In the night’s co-feature, Marlon Moraes put himself in position to challenge for World Series of Fighting’s first bantamweight fight with a 32-second destruction of Carson Beebe.
Moraes came out swinging, as Beebe rushed straight forward and looked for a takedown. Instead, he ran into a buzzsaw of strikes. The muay Thai specialist unleashed a few furious uppercuts as he sprawled, and Beebe was forced to stand and trade. It didn’t work out in his favor.
Moraes continued to swing for the fences, and a powerful left hook sent Beebe crashing to the floor in a quick finish.
“He’s a wrestler,” Moraes said. “He came hard to take me down, but I was ready. He was too close to try to take me down. I could hit him with some punches.”
Fitch edges out Alfaya, Gaethje dominates Lauzon
It didn’t come easy for Jon Fitch, but he did earn a much-needed win over Marcelo Alfaya.
As the bout opened, Fitch looked for an early takedown, but it was Alfaya who turned the tables and brought the action to the floor. As Fitch scrambled, Alfaya transitioned beautifully to the back and trapped his opponent’s left arm in a figure-four. Fitch calmly worked his arm free, but Alfaya remained firm on the back, where he hunted for submission attempts until the final seconds of the frame.
Fitch didn’t make the same mistake in the second, instead taking the fight down right away. However, a gritty Alfaya quickly reversed the position and again moved to the back. However, scrambled immediately to his feet, and they went to work on the feet. Alfaya nearly scrambled to the back again, but Fitch scrambled free and started to find some success with his hands. As Alfaya seemed to tire, Fitch showed good head movement and tagged his opponent with several significant blows.
Fitch abandoned the takedown game in the third round, instead favoring a sprawl-and-brawl attack. It was a wise choice, as Fitch was able to remain upright and use crisp boxing to snap his opponent’s head back. With time winding down, Fitch floored Alfaya in a flurry and outworked him until the final bell.
In the end, Fitch did enough to earn a split-decision win, and he later said he felt confident he had done enough to win the fight.
“I was fairly confident I did enough,” Fitch said. “I did a lot of damage, a lot of striking, a lot of stuff on top. He was able to control a lot of positions on me, which I wasn’t expecting. He was really strong, but I don’t think it was enough to win a fight.”
Undefeated prospect Justin Gaethje was expected to engage in a “Fight of the Night”-type matchup with Dan Lauzon. Instead, he simply battered “The Upgrade” in impressive fashion.
As expected, Gaethje and Lauzon engaged from the opening bell, firing off power shots in flurries. Gaethje found particular success digging to the body, but Lauzon stood firm in the pocket and returned fire. As the round wore on, Gaethje added in several snapping low kicks, wobbling Lauzon by buckling the right leg.
Gaethje’s strikes left his opponent unable to stand, but he refused to follow Lauzon to the floor, instead asking him to stand and chopping away at the limb
Lauzon switched stances to open the second, and Gaethje simply turned his attention to the left leg. With Lauzon struggling to support his own weight, Gaethje blasted him with two powerful right hands that sent him toppling to the floor. One more punch on the floor ended the fight in brutal fashion.
Torres, Volkmann upset in featured prelims
In featured preliminary action, Miguel Torres (40-7) fell to 1-4 in his past five fights after suffering a first-round submission loss to Pablo Alfonso (9-5).
Alfonso flurried with punches from the opening bell, and after tagging Torres with an early flurry, he followed to the ground to finish the job. Torres briefly recovered, but Alfonso adjusted his attack and locked in the guillotine choke, scoring the tap at the 3:05 mark of the opening frame.
Additionally, veteran lightweight Luiz “Buscape” Firmino (17-6) scored an upset win over Jacob Volkmann (16-5). While the bout was light on action, Firmino simply outwrestled Volkmann, establishing top position repeatedly en route to claiming a unanimous-decision win.
The night’s full results include:
- Steve Carl def. Josh Burkman via technical submission (triangle choke) – Round 4, 1:02 – to claim inaugural welterweight title
- Marlon Moraes def. Carson Beebe via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:32
- Jon Fitch def. Marcelo Alfaya via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Justin Gaethje def. Dan Lauzon via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 1:40
For more on WSOF 6, stay tuned to the MMA Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Steve Carl)