Tyler Stinson will fight this Saturday night in Las Vegas for the World Series of Fighting. The thing is, the Strikeforce and Bellator veteran still doesn’t know, with absolute certainty, the identity of his opponent. As of right now, he is scheduled to face UFC veteran and former WSOF title challenger Josh Burkman. In a funny twist of fate, though, Stinson could end up with a title shot against Steve Carl instead.

Carl’s scheduled challenger, Rousimar Palhares, is still awaiting results from a Nevada State Athletic Commission-mandated drug test. Those results won’t be available until Friday, the day before the event. If Palhares doesn’t pass that test, Stinson will step in and get his shot.

“I’m still planning on fighting Josh,” Stinson told The MMA Corner. “If the title fight comes, then great. But it would be foolish of me to cross my fingers and hope that Palhares doesn’t pass his drug test.”

Stinson (top) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Stinson (top) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Regardless of his opponent, Stinson will end up in a big fight that will be featured on the main card of World Series of Fighting 9, which takes place at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and airs live on the NBC Sports Network on Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET.

This will be Stinson’s second fight under the WSOF banner. He is coming off a third-round TKO victory over Valdir Araujo in January. Leading up to that fight, Stinson took to social media to try to get himself featured on the main card. Certain television deals prevented that from happening, but Stinson believes that whole situation contributed to the spot that he finds himself in now.

“I think there are a couple of things that played into it. One was the performance—I took him out and finished him,” Stinson explained. “Also, all of my crazy fans started tweeting World Series and saying that they wanted me on TV.”

A vocal fan base is a big deal for any fighter who is trying to work his way through the ranks and become a bigger star. Stinson certainly doesn’t take that for granted.

“I think one of the reasons everyone starts fighting is to have fans,” he said. “Whether it is one person or the whole place cheering for you, it is an amazing feeling.”

Stinson also understands the power of social media and what it has done for his career.

“I’ll be sitting at home playing video games and I’ll see someone talking me up on social media,” Stinson said. “For someone to take the time out of their day to do that is just amazing.”

That fan base, along with his current four-fight winning streak, has led him to his big fight with Burkman this weekend. It’s not his first flirtation with the big time, though. Stinson had a brief stint in Strikeforce, but back-to-back losses to Tarec Saffiedine and Jordan Mein meant that Zuffa did not bring him over when it merged the Strikeforce roster into the UFC.

His streak of four finishes started with his first fight—a clash against Zac Kelley at C3 Fights Armageddon 2012 that Stinson won via first-round knockout—after he left Strikeforce. Stinson credits a move to Grudge Training Center in Colorado as part of what has turned his fortunes around. He feels more at home with the team. The guys at the camp try not to get complacent, and they aren’t afraid of a little change of pace.

“We will go fishing or go to the arcade,” revealed Stinson. “We are just a bunch of big kids. It doesn’t have to always be in the gym. We just find ways to keep this sport fun.”

Stinson has had fun recently with all of those finishes. Now, he is looking forward to fighting Burkman.

“He’s good everywhere,” Stinson said of his upcoming opponent. “But I know in every part of my stand-up game, I’m better than him.

Stinson (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Stinson (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

“He’s going to try and take me down, and I’m going to try and punch him in the face really hard. He says he is going try and stop me? People have tried not to get hit. They are just trying not to lose, and a lot of them have lost consciousness.”

If Stinson removes Burkman from consciousness, then even bigger things could be waiting for him in the near future. A convincing win could earn Stinson a title shot…if he doesn’t end up fighting for gold on Saturday.

Stinson knows there are bigger names than him right now in the WSOF. Palhares, who was released by the UFC, is getting the title shot in his first fight with the organization. Although Stinson doesn’t necessarily believe Palhares, with his checkered past, is the best representative for the sport, he understands that it is a business decision and that Palhares will bring more eyeballs to the sport and the promotion. Jon Fitch is also a big part of the WSOF welterweight division. Fitch, despite a 1-1 mark in WSOF competition, is even considered the current No. 1 contender. Stinson would like to change that.

“I know Jon Fitch is in line,” Stinson said “But I’m looking to go out there and put on a performance that is so impressive that I leapfrog Fitch.”

If Stinson does earn that title shot, he certainly wouldn’t mind if the current champion is the one waiting for him. Stinson and Carl have fought once before. In that bout, which was contested inside the Bellator cage, Carl got the best of Stinson by submission.

“I would love to get another shot at Steve,” Stinson admitted. ”I want him to win, not only because I want to fight him, but he’s also my friend and I think there is a story to tell there.”

Stinson is only 28 years old and is entering the 37th fight of his pro career, a fight that he considers to be the biggest yet in his tenure as a fighter. Whether he ends up across the cage from Burkman or Carl, he still knows how he hopes the fight will end.

“It is going to end with him on his back looking up at the lights [and] wondering where he’s at,” Stinson predicted. “I love the straight left, but whatever way he gives me, I’ll take it.”

That is certainly an ending that would send Stinson’s rabid group of supporters flocking to social media to discuss.

Tyler would like to thank all of his coaches and teammates at Grudge Training Center. He would also like to thank his sponsors: Grudge Fight Wear and Husky Liners. Finally, Tyler would like to thank all of his friends and family back home and his fans all across the country. Follow Stinson on Twitter: @SteeMon84

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.