Imagine catching a flying knee to the face. Your nose is crushed, and a crimson fountain takes its place. Not so much fun. But seeing it happen to someone else, in a safe, controlled environment, for the sake of sport, is awesome!
The World Series of Fighting is headed for Coral Gables, and the BankUnited Center is going to feel it like an elbow to the solarplexus.
Fighters Josh Burkman and Steve Carl headline the card in their battle for the WSOF's first ever welterweight championship. Here's what they have to say about strength, submission, and being the best in the world.
How do you guys feel about the event?
Josh Burkman: Camp went well. I was part of the very first World Series Of Fighting and I'm excited for the first title shot. I'm more prepared than ever for this fight. It's gonna be an entertaining card and a good show.
Steve Carl: I'm super excited for this event. Not just for the title shot with Burkman but for the rest of the card too. I'm looking forward to watching some of these matchups. And the colder it gets in Iowa, the more excited I am to get down to Miami.
Josh, what's different about you since the UFC?
Burkman: After the UFC I took a year off, and by taking that year off I changed my lifestyle. I had a back injury and I was told by three surgeons that I shouldn't fight. I had a herniated disc in my neck, my back, nerve damage, arthritis....I had to change my diet, quit drinking, start going to bed earlier, quit going out. I changed my whole life and I've never felt better.
After I lost by decision to a Canadian in Canada I vowed never to stay out of the gym. I stay in fight shape all the time now. And I just try to get better and better. I also got married, which gave my life structure, and helped me ground myself. And I had a little boy, which took all my selfishness away. Marriage has made me a better man and a better martial artist.
Steve, you've won your past six fights in a row. Do you feel you deserve more credit for doing so?
Carl: I'm good with way things are going. People are looking at this like Burkman is getting more hype and more credit....well, he deserves it. Look at the three wins he just put down. Burkman is the favorite and I'm ok with it. I'm gonna be in the cage in that fight. He still has to beat me or I still have to beat him. Burkman is one of best in the world and I can't be more excited to compete with him.
How will it feel if you win the belt?
Burkman: I think it will be a feeling of accomplishment. Any time you have something taken from you and you change your life and come back healthy I think it completes the comeback to win. And I would be proud to represent the organization as champion. I wanna see the company succeed for the success of everybody.
That was an awesome choke out you pulled to win against Fitch!
Burkman: That win was the biggest win of my career. Fitch is hands down a top three fighter in the world in the short history of MMA. It was good for me and the organization. I expect to win again.
What is your opponent's greatest strength?
Carl: It's more than just muscle strength. He really changed his entire life and became in tune with himself, calmed things down and got in touch with himself as a fighter. He poses a great challenge and I look forward to putting my mental strength against is in the cage.
Burkman: Physically, I have to say submissions. I mean, he won six fights by submission in the first round. But I have to say his greatest strength is his composure and ability to gauge distance. That's what I gotta worry about most going into this fight.
Would it shock the world if you won?
Carl: Shock the world? Yeah. It takes pressure off my shoulders. All I have to do is prove these people wrong. And If I don't, they get what they expected. Underdog is the easiest role to play.
Any special new training to counter Carl?
Burkman: I didn't bring anyone new in. We have a lot of great jujitsu guys at our gym. And I have a strictly grappling gym I go to, full of guys who've had black belts for 20 or 30 years. I asked them questions and kept the same people around me that I've had for the last couple years.
Burkman has talked about fighting you before. What's that like?
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Carl: It's gratifying to get recognition from him. We had talked about fighting each other before. I respect him as a person and as a fighter. There's no bad blood, and I think that's how it should be between two top level competitors. We get in the cage and test our mettle.
The World Series Of Fighting 6 takes place at BankUnited Center this Saturday. Tickets start at $29 via Ticketmaster. Doors open at 5 p.m. Call 800-745-3000.