Steve Carl has submitted his last five foes in the first round. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
Tyson Steele (10-1, 1-0 WSOF) vs. Steve Carl (19-3, 1-0 WSOF)
The Matchup: The WSOF shows off its promotional savvy with its co-headliner, eschewing big-name castoffs from other organizations in favor of highlighting its own up-and-coming talent. The ground game is the bread and butter of both these combatants; Steele has earned seven of his 10 career victories via tapout, while Carl has submitted 14 of his 19 victims.
It was Steele’s submission defense, however, that carried him to his highest-profile victory to date at WSOF 1. The Alliance Martial Arts System representative was taken down early by Gregor Gracie, but he was able to survive an arm-triangle choke and an armbar attempt from his more celebrated opponent. On the feet, Steele stunned Gracie with a knee before finishing the contest with heavy ground-and-pound. Steele’s ability to fight through adversity should benefit him should he find himself in a similarly dire situation against Carl.
A four-time veteran of Bellator MMA, Carl went 2-2 with the promotion, earning wins over Tyler Stinson and Brett Cooper while falling to Dan Hornbuckle and Douglas Lima. The Hard Drive MMA product notably hurt Lima with a right hook early in their Bellator 49 encounter, but he was unable to capitalize and lost a unanimous decision. Since leaving Bellator, Carl has submitted five straight opponents inside of a round, including Ramico Blackmon at WSOF 1.
Carl usually looks to change levels for takedowns when his opponent attacks; from there, he is adept at maintaining a steady pace with ground-and-pound. Carl and Steele are good in scrambles, so this could come down to who makes a mistake during a battle for positioning on the floor. Steele displayed a good finishing instinct and patience when he had Gracie hurt, and he landed heavy punches from inside Gracie’s guard to finish the fight. If Steele is in top position, expect Carl to attempt to sweep and threaten with submissions from his back.
The Pick: If the grappling action proves to be a wash, Steele’s aggression in exchanges will be the difference. The Canadian defeats Carl by late stoppage or decision.
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