World Series of Fighting welterweight champion Steve Carl has a tough test ahead.
With 16 of his 21 professional victories coming by submission, Carl is scheduled to put his title on the line for the first time against grappling wizard Rousimar Palhares, who has 11 taps under his belt.
They will meet at WSOF 9 main event on March 29 in Las Vegas, Nev., and "Toquinho" expects a battle on the ground.
"Is he going to fight on the ground with me? I don’t know. But I hope he does [laughs]," Palhares told MMAFighting.com. "I don’t think he has anything else to do. His fights always end on the ground. It’s hard to say because I don’t know what he’s planning to do, but usually nobody wants to go to the ground against me. Let’s see if he’s going or not."
"Toquinho" has never fought a five-round bout in his MMA career, but guarantees he’s ready for it.
"It was one of the best camps I ever had," the Team Nogueira welterweight said. "I trained everything, had great training partners. I’ve evolved in everything compared to my welterweight debut."
"I’m ready for five rounds, but you never know how long the fight will go," he continued. "I’m well trained and confident, feeling strong. This is my weight class. I’m here to do my best. I don’t know how long the fight will go, but I hope I go out with the win."
Coming off a huge (and controversial) 31-second finish over Mike Pierce in the UFC, Palhares knows that everybody will keep an eye on him in this fight, especially if he ends up locking a submission.
"I want them to see a new Toquinho," he said. "Wait for it. It’s going to be cool.
"This title represents my rebirth as a fighter, but with more wisdom and intelligence. It’s going to be one of the biggest prizes I ever had."
Headlined by Carl vs. Palhares, WSOF 9 takes place at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and features the Marlon Moraes vs. Josh Rettinghouse for the inaugural bantamweight championship. UFC veteran Yushin Okami is also scheduled to compete at the card, making his promotional debut against Svetlozar Savov.