With his win over Josh Burkman last October, welterweight Steve Carl not only captured the World Series of Fighting 170-pound championship, he capped off an undefeated year that saw his current winning streak move to seven.
It’s the kind of success that has come to Carl not without its share of willpower and determination.
“It’s not something I ever really thought about, but last year someone asked me if 2013 was going to be the year of Steve Carl, and without even hesitating I said absolutely it was going to be my year and that’s how it turned out for me,” he said.
“It’s weird, I’ve sustained more injuries and trained less than the last years, so mentally I’ve made strides that have really opened my game up and help me fight more to my abilities.”
Even with all he’s accomplished, Carl is not resting on earlier success, but instead is looking firmly forward.
“It’s been nice to sit back and bask in the glory a little bit, but that was yesterday and I’m looking at tomorrow,” Carl told MMAWeekly.com. “I’m ready to see what the future holds and what else I can accomplish.”
What’s next for Carl (21-3) is his first WSOF title defense on March 29 in Las Vegas, when he takes on former UFC vet Rousimar Palhares (15-5) in the evening’s main event.
“To beat Palhares, I’m really going to have to go out there and fight like I’ve wanted to fight for years,” said Carl. “I have to go out there and just let it go. If I hesitate or worry too much about what he’s going to do, he’s going to capitalize and put me in a bad position.”
Palhares will be making his WSOF debut after being released from the UFC following his release from the company for holding onto a submission too long in his fight against Mike Pierce in October.
When asked if such behavior by Palhares is a concern for in their upcoming fight, Carl said, “It’s something that’s on my mind, but it’s not something I’m going to be thinking about, because if I start thinking about that, it will take me out of position when I need to be thinking about how I’m going to finish him.”
While he’s earned everything he’s achieved over the last couple years, Carl still feels like he’s on the outside looking in, and won’t stop feeling that way in order to stay hungry.
“I may be at the top, but I think like there’s a lot for me to accomplish and a lot of things for me to prove this year,” he said. “My fight with Rousimar is the first one, because going into this fight I’m the underdog and I can say that with certainty and even though I have the title, I have a lot to prove going into this fight.
“Even holding the belt, I feel like there’s a lot for me to gain this year. A win over Palhares is the first step and a win over (Jon) Fitch would be the next.”