The World Series of Fighting 9 main event between welterweight champion Steve Carl and newly acquired ex-UFC fighter Rousimar Palhares is in jeopardy.
On a conference call Tuesday afternoon, WSOF senior executive vice president and matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz confirmed that the Nevada State Athletic Commission requested additional drug testing for Palhares before the showdown.
He failed a drug test after his UFC on Fox 6 loss to Hector Lombard, and while Abdel-Aziz believes the test will come back clean, he is preparing for the worst.
"We'll get the result the Wednesday before the fight [March 26]," Abdel-Aziz said during the conference call. "We wish we had more notice, but I'm not worried about Rousimar not being clean. He was clean for his last fight. I'm very sure he's a clean fighter, but if anything bad happens, I have a backup for Steve Carl. Steve Carl will fight regardless."
While Abdel-Aziz said he is thankful that the NSAC is strictly testing fighters, he admitted that this last-second decision on their end caused a bit of tension for the organization and for the WSOF 9 main event.
"I'm almost 100 percent sure he [Palhares] is going to come back clean," Abdel-Aziz said. "To be honest with you, I support that they test 100 percent. I think all fighters should be tested. But please give me a heads up or a notice."
Abdel-Aziz on his 'back-up' plan for Carl: "I'm sure Palhares will test clean." Apparently Palhares was randomly tested by NSAC this week.— Heidi Fang (@HeidiFang) March 18, 2014
Regarding this matter, Carl said that he is ready for anything that comes his way. If he's fighting Palhares, that's fine, but if Palhares fails his drug test, Carl is prepared to step into the cage on March 29 and put on a show.
"On short notice, you can't really prepare for anything," Carl said. "You just have to be ready for anything, and that's what I am. If it comes down to where Palhares can't fight and Ali has a backup plan for me, then it looks like I'm going to fight the backup plan, no questions asked."
As for Abdel-Aziz's backup plan?
Welterweight contender Tyler Stinson, who fights Josh Burkman in a featured bout on the WSOF 9 card, chimed in during the call, saying that he was next in line for Carl if Palhares cannot compete.
"Yesterday, I woke up, and there was an article on Sherdog, and it says on there that—I think it was Ali—said that if Palhares' things don't go through, then I get bumped up," Stinson told Bleacher Report. "In this whole mix-up with the drug testing, I think I'm the guy that it doesn't affect at all. Either I fight the guy I've been training for or I get to fight for the title against a guy I almost beat. Either way, I make out the best."
Stinson and Carl previously fought at Bellator 26 in August 2010, when Carl won via first-round technical submission due to a guillotine choke.
Despite Carl's decisive victory, Stinson found success in the bout, nearly cinching up a fight-ending triangle choke on multiple occasions. On top of that, both fighters have evolved since that time, and Stinson feels that no matter what the WSOF decides for him come March 29, he is ready to capitalize on the moment.
"The first time I fought Steve, we had about four days notice, so this won't be any different," Stinson said. "The fact that I might get bumped up is so exciting. This sport's too dangerous to look for some fights here and there. I'm trying to be the best in this world...Either I get to knock out Burkman, or I get to win the title, so either way, I make out the best out of all of us."
Stinson said that he did not speak directly to Abdel-Aziz or WSOF president Ray Sefo about the shuffle, but he mentioned that he is mentally preparing for the moment and will be ready if they call his name before March 29.
Stay tuned as more details emerged regarding Palhares' drug test and the WSOF 9 main event.