WSOF 9: Steve Carl Not Sure if Rousimar Palhares Deserves Title Shot, But Says “The Whole World’s Watching” as a Result
By Kelsey Mowatt
This time last year, Steve Carl may not have been one of the first names that came to fans’ minds while discussing World Series of Fighting, but thanks to the welterweight’s continued success, that’s likely changing. After all, not only has Carl gone 3-0 since arriving in the promotion, but last October he choked out Josh Burkman to lay claim to the WSOF title. It was a big and impressive win that certainly captured the sport’s attention.
Now, Carl will fight a man in Rousimar Palhares, who not long ago, was banned from the UFC for the prolonged heel hook he used to defeat Mike Pierce in October. As a result, the newly crowned champ knows that his first title defense won’t suffer from a lack of coverage.
“He’s an amazingly talented fighter; first off, he definitely deserves to keep fighting,” Carl noted on a recent media call, while discussing whether the controversial fighter should be allowed to compete. “I don’t know if giving him a title shot right away was really deserving, but at the same time, all that controversy that surrounds him puts him in a perfect spot to be in a title shot, because there’s going to be so many people tuning into this fight.”
“If he was just fighting a regular fight on the main card it wouldn’t be as big of a buzz,” Carl furthered. “Now that he’s back in it for a title shot, you know, the whole world’s watching.”
After Palhares defeated Pierce, the feared submission artist relayed he never intended to injure the rugged wrestler. Since “Toquinho” has been disciplined in the past for similar actions, however, the fighter was heavily criticized throughout MMA. In fact, not long after the incident, former UFC contender and WSOF welterweight Jon Fitch said he wouldn’t fight Palhares.
“No, it gave me more concern before being offered the fight,” said Carl, when asked if he had any reservations about fighting Palhares, considering the latter has injured others in the past. “When he first signed with the organization I think that rattled everyone in the welterweight division a little bit. Jon Fitch came out and said ‘I don’t want to fight him’, and it would be very easy for me to say the same thing, but once I had that belt around my waist, I wanted to come off as a champion that would fight anybody.”
“Given the opportunity to fight him I took it immediately,” the 29 year-old furthered. “When faced with thinking about being in that position, and him not letting go, my stance is that I really don’t care. If I’m in that position I’ve already lost the fight.”
While the ground skills of Palhares are clearly well documented, Carl’s submission game has produced many of the vet’s victories to date. As a result, it will be interesting to see how Carl approaches Palhares on March 29th, and whether he’ll be able to negate the latter’s leglock attacks.
“Quite simply put, if he wants it to turn it into a leglock war my goal is to keep it a fight and that’s about it,” said Carl. “Wherever this fight goes he has the ability to go to the leglock from wherever. I need to stay aware of where my legs are in comparison to his body, and I need to keep this a fight instead of getting myself deep into a leglock where I’m no longer able to fight and instead I’m just trying to defend myself.”
WSOF 9 will be hosted by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network.