WSOF 6: Burkman vs. Carl — Preview of the Main Card
here are several narratives going into this weekend’s World Series of Fighting 6: Burkman vs. Carl. There’s the story of Josh Burkman, a phoenix reborn after severing ties with the world’s preeminent mixed martial arts organization, within reach of the first world title handed out by the only MMA organization aired via national public broadcast. Then there’s the man standing in his way, Steve Carl, a former member of the United States Army who has fought everywhere from Texas to Bulgaria, to Russia and back to Nevada, finishing all of his last six fights by submission.
There’s Carson Beebe, a four-time state wrestling champion who, despite looking like a monster in the cage, may still be best known for the namesake he shares with his famous brother Chase. Across from him Saturday will be a Tasmanian devil in the form of Marlon Moraes, who has absolutely blitzed through the WSOF ranks on his way towards co-main eventing this Saturday. Another win will almost assuredly set him up for a shot at vying for the organization’s first bantamweight belt.
Opening the card up are two very interesting fights, the first of the televised portion being a bout between 25-year-old undefeated (both in his amateur and pro career) knockout factory Justin Gaethje and Dan Lauzon, brother of Joe, who is riding a five-fight win streak coming into this matchup, with three going the way of (T)KO. The second bout, despite being among the later additions to the card, may very well be the most compelling, as it pits Jon Fitch, who is experiencing the first two-fight losing streak of his career (going 1-3-1 in his last five fights) against Marcelo Alfaya, who we last saw knocking out newly-crowned CFA welterweight champion and all-around monster Valdir Araujo. Don’t sleep on this fight people.
With an undercard boasting big names like Miguel Torres, Jacob Volkmann, Alexis Vila, Fabio Mello, Luiz Firmino and Chad “Robo” Robichaux, WSOF 6: Burkman vs. Carl is sure to be a gangbusters night of fights from top to bottom.
To whet your appetite for this Saturday’s main card fights, here’s my breakdown of the card with some insight as to what I believe will be the x-factors for each fighter going into their bouts. Here we go!
Lightweight (155 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Justin Gaethje [9-0]
Dan “The Upgrade” Lauzon [17-4]
Choosing from the matchups set for the evening, I am hard pressed to think of a better fight to open up the main televised card. These two young bucks in their mid 20s – both already with great veteran-length records – have most likely been eyeing each other since they last competed and won in their respective fights at WSOF 3: Fitch vs. Burkman. One of them has the opportunity to make their star shine with a big win at the BankUnited Center this weekend, while the other won’t fall so far as to not be able to rebound with a subsequent win and get right back in the mix.
What that means is, look for fireworks. The undefeated Gaethje has only gone the distance once in his professional career, and all of his other wins have been emphatic finishes, whether by slam KO, doctor stoppage, a one-punk knockout over former UFC lightweight Drew Fickett or the systematic chopping down of the legs of his last opponent, Brian Cobb.
Lauzon, who fared unsuccessfully in two fights with the UFC, has since bounced back and is looking to make it six in a row this Saturday. His lineage and past bouts indicate he is not wary of a dogfight, and that’s the kind of set-to Gaethje appears to favor himself.
Welterweight (170 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Jon Fitch [24-6-1]
Marcelo “Grilo” Alfaya [15-6]
Jon Fitch has something to prove. In an exclusive interview which will be going up late Thursday evening, Fitch confided that he’d begun to pay too much mind to the peanut gallery – He was a boring fighter. He didn’t finish enough. He lacked true killer instincts and aggression.
Everyone knows what wound up happening.
It’s redemption time for Mr. Fitch, but don’t tell Marcelo Alfaya that. He’ll be coming in eager to make a statement and build a name off of an opponent who for many years was considered the greatest welterweight not named Georges St. Pierre. This will mark the first time Alfaya’s fought twice in the same year since 2009, so it’ll be interesting to see how much staying in constant shape will do for him. He’s got legit KO power in his hands, he has a great armbar which he has no fear sacrificing position to throw up during a fight and, in a career that has spanned 11 and a half years, he’s never been submitted.
We’re talking about Jon Fitch, so we generally have an idea of what to expect from him. He’s going to push the action, close distance, stick to Alfaya like glue from bell to bell and look for a finish that he very well may get. Fitch has been on a bit of a downslide as of late, but let’s not forget that, despite lacking knockout power, this guy has faced the best of the best time and again and has only ever lost to top-tier talent. Will Alfaya announce himself as one this Saturday?
Bantamweight (135 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Marlon Moraes [11-4-1]
Carson “Little Juggernaut” Beebe [14-2]
This match between two 25-year-old men knocking on the doors of their physical prime may seem an odd choice, at least for the casual viewer, for co-main event status with names like Jon Fitch and Miguel Torres riding backseat, however that all is subject to change the minute the referee utters the word, “fight.”
If this fight were reliant solely on Carson Beebe’s initiative, one may worry about time elapsing without much in the way of spectacular action occurring. Though he has scored a pair of knockouts (while never being knocked out himself), he prefers grounding, pounding and submitting his opponents. Though he’s gone 8-2 in his last ten fights, only three of those victories have come by way of submission, the rest being decided by way of three-round ringside judgment.
Moraes, on the other hand, will bring the thunder. Having gone 7-2-1 in his last ten, he’s never lost by decision in his career, and he mixes it up too, with four submissions and two knockout victories during that span.
What’s to be expected? Beebe will most likely wisely look to close the distance and negate Moraes’ standing strikes. All of Moraes’ tap out victories appear to have come from offensive top-position subs, something which his opponent may look to stifle with a takedown of his own. The question is whether or not Moraes has the same thing in mind, though he may want to watch out: Beebe’s been favoring the guillotine choke as of late, a particularly pretty takedown counter when timed right.
Main Event: Welterweight (170 lbs.) Title Fight – 5 Rounds
“The People’s Warrior” Josh Burkman [26-9]
Steve Carl [20-3]
What really is going to make the difference in this fight is strength and wrestling acumen, both of which are in the favor of Josh Burkman. This doesn’t mean “The People’s Warrior” has room to get sloppy – quite the contrary. Carl is about as savvy as they come once the fight hits the mat, and if the six-fight first-round submission streak he’s accumulated over the last two years is any indication, the 29-year-old is in peak form.
On could venture to say the same thing of Burkman who, with the exception of the nine-fight string he put together while fighting for the Ultimate Combat Experience during 2003, is doing better than he ever has before, and certainly against better competition.
Can Burkman avoid the ground and force Carl into a striking exchange? Can Carl take advantage of an over-commitment from his opponent and either land a takedown or catch Josh with a strike while off guard? Will Burkman be willing to go to the ground and meet his lethal BJJ practitioner tit for tat on the mat? I, for one, am eager to find out.
World Series of Fighting 6: Burkman vs. Carl is this Saturday, October 26 at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, FL. Tickets start at $25. Watch the prelims streaming online at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT and the main card on NBC at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
(All photos used courtesy of Sherdog.com except *, used courtesy of NBC Sports.)