It’s been a busy week in MMA, and it all culminates today with one spectacular event: the World Series of Fighting’s announcement that it will award its first championship belt in October.
Josh Burkman and Steve Carl will vie for the welterweight strap at World Series of Fighting 6 on Oct. 26 in Coral Gables, inaugurating a title that will no doubt be contested in several thrilling scraps over decades of peaceful coexistence with Major League Baseball.
“I think that matchup will be something special,” WSOF President Ray Sefo said. “The whole lineup we’re planning will be fantastic, and I look forward to making more announcements very soon.”
The card will co-feature a bantamweight fight between Carson “Little Juggernaut” Beebe and Marlon Moraes, as well as Dan Lauzon versus undefeated lightweight Justin “Gidget” Gaethje. The main card will air live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 9pm. As of press time, Gaethje has not agreed to his nickname.
Burkman (26-9 MMA) is 8-1 since leaving the UFC, with a 41-second submission win over Jon Fitch in June. WSOF’s press release describes him as a “resurgent veteran.” His opponent is an actual veteran; Carl (20-3 MMA) began fighting in the Modern Army Combatives Program and trains with Team Hard Drive in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
You have not partied until you’ve partied with Team Hard Drive in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Also, Burkman’s post-UFC win streak can be read two ways.
It might say that the UFC is too quick to let go of underperforming talent. Burkman was 5-2 in the big show before he hit the dreaded three-fight losing streak, which included a split decision in a headliner to Mike Swick. His impressive record since is a testament to his determination, but it might also testify to the gap in competition between the UFC and other promotions.
Sefo and the World Series of Fighting are working hard to sell the other narrative. In the post-Pride, post-Strikeforce, post-arm-wrestling-with-punching era of mixed martial arts, WSOF believes there are enough talented welterweights outside the UFC to make a division. Godspeed, Ray Sefo. Godspeed.
Dan Brooks writes about politics, culture and lying at Combat! blog.