The World Series of Fighting, going head-to-head with the World Series of baseball on Saturday night, crowned its first ever champion. Steve Carl put Josh Burkman to sleep in the fourth round with a triangle choke at the 1:02 mark to win the promotion's inaugural welterweight crown.
WSOF returned with its sixth installment from the Bank United Center in Coral Gables, Fla., and Burkman was the favorite heading in. But Carl was a picture of perseverance throughout, taking advantage of Burkman's aggression to finish the former UFC fighter in the championship rounds. Burkman appeared to tap prior to going out, though referee Troy Waugh didn't see it until Burkman went limp. After a back-and-forth three rounds in which both fighters went for a variety of submissions and stifled each other on the ground, Carl was able to sink in the triangle choke that closed the deal.
With the victory, Carl improved his record to 21-3, while the 33-year old Burkman drops to 26-10.
"I felt a little disappointed, I felt like I could have performed a lot better," Carl said in the WSOF decagon afterwards. "But, there's something not a lot of people know. 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. I'm not really happy with my performance. I was so tired I wanted to quit there a couple of times. Josh is a really game opponent and he kept bringing it."
The co-main event saw bantamweight Carson Beebe try and take it right to dynamo Marlon Moraes, but instead end up getting knocked out just 32 seconds into the bout. The 25-year old Moraes caught the pressuring Beebe with a big left hand that dropped him after landing a series of big shots beforehand.
With the loss, Beebe falls to 14-3, suffering only his second setback since March 2011. Meanwhile Moraes improves to 4-0 in the WSOF, and is swiftly becoming one of the promotions shining stars.
In other action, longtime UFC veteran Jon Fitch was looking to rebound against Marcelo Alfaya from his shocking loss in his WSOF debut to Josh Burkman, and found himself in a dogfight. Alfaya started fast and controlled position in the first round. But Fitch slowly began to turn the fight in his favor. In a surprise twist, Fitch insisted on keeping the fight standing and eked out a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
To kick off the main card, lightweight Justin Gaethje remained undefeated as a professional mixed martial artist with a second round technical knockout of Dan Lauzon. Gaethje punished Lauzon's right leg in the first round with leg kicks, and, when Lauzon answered the second round bell in an orthodox stance, went to work on his lead left leg.
Gaethje (10-0, and 3-0 in WSOF) put Lauzon away at the 1:40 mark of the second round with a lethal combination that ended with an uppercut. The loss snapped Lauzon's five-fight winning streak.