The World Series of Fighting has crowned its first welterweight champion, belting Steve Carl following his fourth-round submission win over Josh Burkman on Saturday at WSOF 6.
The fight was a back-and-forth grappling war, with both fighters demonstrating strong grappling chops and swapping submission attempts from start to finish. The first three rounds all saw a fighter come very close to finishing, but it wasn't until Round 4 that Carl was able to take hold of one of Burkman's arms from bottom guard position and lock up a tight triangle choke.
Carl entered the fight as a huge plus-335 underdog, and he revealed after the fight that he had been hospitalized just two weeks earlier with a back injury that left him unable to walk. He was unable to train afterward and dedicated a large block of his camp to recuperating.
Burkman is a UFC veteran who was released from the promotion in 2008 after amassing a 5-5 record. He entered the fight with a 3-0 record in WSOF (26-9 overall before the loss) and scored the biggest win of his career at WSOF 3, when he shocked the world with his 41-second submission victory over Jon Fitch.
Carl, meanwhile, is best known for his time in Bellator, where he participated in both the Season 2 and 5 welterweight tournaments and lost in the semifinals and opening round, respectively. His most notable win came over former Bellator middleweight title contender Brett Cooper, whom he beat via split decision. He owned a 2-0 record in WSOF prior to this fight, defeating Ramico Blackmon and Tyson Steele.
In terms of matchmaking, Carl's victory is a blessing for WSOF. The promotion still has a fairly small roster, with only Jon Fitch (who won earlier on the card) and Gerald Harris currently coming off wins. Both of them have lost to Burkman in the last 12 months.
While there is no clear top contender, a bout between Fitch and Harris makes sense for the promotion.