Saturday night was a banner night for the World Series of Fighting. In the promotion’s first trip to the Sunshine State, it put on, arguably, the best card of its six-event history. From the prelims on, the card featured knockouts and upsets, and it was capped off with a back-and-forth battle that crowned the first champion in the organization’s young history. It can also be said that two faces of the organization were born that night. Marlon Moraes scored a 32-second knockout in the co-main event and, of course, the inaugural welterweight championship went to Steve Carl. Both of those fighters are young and come off as charismatic in interviews. It also doesn’t hurt that they are putting on great performances inside of the decagon.

Moraes picked up his fourth win in as many fights for WSOF. It was his second finish in those four fights, and he was extremely excited post-fight.

“I’m so happy right now. This fight was only 32 seconds, but I was sparring this week for six rounds,” Moraes said.

Moraes was fighting close to his home training camp in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and the crowd was extremely behind him. Moraes’ entrance and knockout were the two loudest moments of the night. Moraes’ knockout was spectacular, as he put out fellow bantamweight Carson Beebe in what was the fastest knockout in the history of the WSOF. All fighters in the bantamweight division have good speed, but the Brazilian looked to be on another level Saturday night. Beebe is a strong wrestler who was coming off a victory in his own WSOF debut, but he just couldn’t get a hold of Moraes. Moraes credited that takedown defense to the time he spent training with Frankie Edgar’s camp.

“[Edgar]’s so fast,” Moraes said. “I was ready for Frankie. I respect Beebe a lot and he is a great wrestler, but I went in there and stepped up.”

Moraes certainly did step up, and all indications are that he could be stepping up into a title fight next.

“I don’t know who I’m fighting next, but I want to fight for the title,” he admitted.

If Moraes continues to perform like this, it will certainly be a task for the promotion to find someone to give Moraes a challenge. At this point, he is the uncrowned WSOF bantamweight champion.

Meanwhile, there actually was a champion crowned on Saturday night in Miami. It wasn’t necessarily the fighter most thought it would be, though. Most of the talk heading into the fight was about Josh Burkman. There was rightfully a lot of hype behind “The People’s Warrior,” who was coming off what many consider to be the submission of the year when he choked Jon Fitch out cold. But it wasn’t Burkman who made waves on Saturday. It was his opponent, Steve Carl.

Carl didn’t get much credit coming into the fight. The Bellator veteran was on a six-fight winning streak with all of the wins coming by submission. Still, even in the arena lobby, there was a green screen photo opp for fans, but it only featured a face off with Burkman.

With Fitch on the card as well, many looked past the fight between Burkman and Carl and were already talking about a possible rubber match between Burkman and Fitch.

“I think those comments put more pressure on Josh Burkman than anything else,” Carl said after his win in the headliner. “I had my own problems to worry about coming in to this fight.”

Carl certainly did have major problems. He admitted in the cage after the fight that he was in the emergency room a week before the bout with major back troubles.

“A week ago, I didn’t think that I could win this fight,” the new champ confessed. “I never thought about pulling out. I had a lot of people tell me I needed to pull out, but I knew there was too much on the line and I just couldn’t do it.”

That kind of heart and persevering attitude went a long way towards him earning the belt. Carl found himself in a deep mounted guillotine in the third round only minutes after he had his own close choke attempt, but he was able to escape.

“Of course, tapping went through my mind, but I just chose to push through it,” Carl said.

Carl certainly did push through and locked up a triangle choke of his own in the fourth round that finished the fight. That submission was the biggest of his career and earned him his first title belt at any level. Carl is now the only champion in the up-and-coming organization. He is ready for the challenge and pressure that brings.

“I don’t know what’s going to come my way, but I’m going to face it head on,” he said.

It will be a challenge for all parties involved in the future. The World Series of Fighting is only six events in, but the promotion has big hopes for where it could be in the future. With a deal with NBC Sports Network, a solid group of young prospects and a number of notable veterans, it’s quite possible that big things could be in the cards.

Carl and Moraes will certainly play a huge role in taking the organization to the next level. The camaraderie between those two is already there as well. As Carl was walking back to the locker room with his belt, Moraes stopped to congratulate him on his performance. Carl had one thing to say to Moraes, and it was that Moraes’ time is coming too and will get a belt of his own very soon.

If Carl is right, WSOF couldn’t ask for two better men to represent its company.

Photo: Steve Carl (L) delivers a left hand against Josh Burkman (World Series of Fighting)

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.