World Series of FightingIt’s been awhile since WSOF held a proper event, and while the star power isn’t here, the WSOF 9 fights should prove to be competitive and entertaining. The WSOF 9 main event features a surprising champion in Steve Carl facing a well-known crippler in Rousimar Palhares.

Who will walk away with the strap? We that’s where you read onwards homies!

Steve Carl vs Rousimar Palhares: A well-known grinder with a ton of heart, Steve Carl has been on a tear over the last three years, culminating with his first major title. Having taken Josh Burkman to the brink and choking him out cold in an outstanding fight, Carl will take on his toughest test to date in Rousimar Palhares.

Palhares has made plenty of headlines, though rarely for the right reasons, having failed numerous drug tests, broken limbs and many bouts having some kind of controversy. Having been given a second life by WSOF after intentionally breaking Mike Pierce’s leg, Palhares is thrown directly into a title fight in his WSOF debut.

This fight has an interesting X-factor that many people seem to have forgotten, or perhaps never know. As great as Palhares is at leg locks, Steve Carl’s right leg was shattered in a car wreck five years ago and his shin replaced with a titanium rod for a time. While you might think this makes leg locks easier on the formerly injured leg, I’ve personally found this to be the opposite.

As a younger man, I had badly broken my ankle working in a warehouse, and lacking insurance, was never able to get it fixed. This left me with a slight limp and a crooked ankle, but it also left my leg unable to be leg locked due to the stiffness and messy angles of the bones. In grappling, I would use this to my advantage by going for leg locks and throwing my messed up leg over the top, knowing my opponent would try their luck on that one to no avail.

I can’t say for certain if Carl’s leg reacts the same way, but considering his training camp will focus on leg lock defense, he’ll be the first to know if that right leg is even vulnerable. If he can throw that leg out as bait, he can always take top position in scrambles and leave the notoriously weak cardio of Palhares on empty within a round; making the next four rounds a living hell for the Brazilian. It’s all up to that leg and Palhares’ endurance, as he has all the potential to get it done early, but all the potential to fail as well.

Marlon Moraes vs Josh Rettinghouse: A fun title fight, Marlon Moraes will take on relatively unheralded fighter Josh Rettinghouse. Moraes is one of the most underrated fighters in the game today, having a masterful muay thai game with plenty of power, impeccable timing, and the gas to work it all day. While his mat work is seldom seen, Moraes has a reputation as a terror on the mat, making him a complete threat.

When you boil this down, Rettinghouse has many of the same qualities as Moraes, though he’s not nearly as talented on any level. While I do think he has potential to work a run-and-gun game plan with a liberal sprinkling of takedowns, this would have to be an absolute flawless execution to prevail. Failing that, I think we see an action packed fight, but one where Moraes walks away with the belt after a decision.

Josh Burkman vs Tyler Stinson: A high-octane bout, Josh Burkman will look to get back on track after losing his title, facing off against well-traveled vet Tyler Stinson. Burkman has had a true resurgence in his career, having honed his expert grappling and added a functional boxing game that emphasizes his fast feet. Stinson is different in many ways, being a hard-nosed striker that hits like a truck but with little finesse of fight smarts.

Stinson has a strong chance of victory here, depending on how Burkman approaches the fight, as Stinson is strong on the counter and can certainly floor Burkman if he connects well. Burkman has the fast shot to make this fight his on the mat and it’s in the transitions that Stinson loses here. Look for a hairy few minutes with Burkman slipping Stinson’s bombs, but hitting a takedown and snatching a guillotine before the end of the first round.

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