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Josh Burkman exceeds own expectations with submission of Jon Fitch

Steve Carl, Justin Gaethje pick up stoppage victories


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Josh Burkman chokes out Jon Fitch during the World Series of Fighting 3 card at The Joint at the Hard Rock Friday, June 14, 2013.

WSOF3 at the Hard Rock

Tyson Steele taps out after Steve Carl catches him in a rear naked choke during the World Series of Fighting 3 card at The Joint at the Hard Rock Friday, June 14, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Note: Full results from the undercard available at the bottom of the page.

This was never the plan.

What Josh Burkman accomplished Friday night, submitting Jon Fitch 41 seconds into their World Series of Fighting 3 main event, was far better than what he planned.

Burkman, a 5-to-1 underdog who held a previous submission loss to Fitch, naturally believed he could win. He thought if everything went right, he could do it quickly too.

But not like this.

“Who thinks they are going to choke out Jon Fitch?,” a beaming Burkman asked backstage minutes after his victory.

Burkman became only the second man in 32 tries, and first since Fitch’s mixed martial arts professional debut 11 years ago, to pull it off. Burkman left Fitch unconscious.

He clipped the longtime second-ranked welterweight in the world with a right hand in the opening 20 seconds and swarmed on an opportunity to attempt a guillotine choke. Before referee Steve Mazzagatti even realized Fitch was out, Burkman felt his opponent go limp and dropped him.

The definitive result seemed to justify the UFC’s highly controversial decision to cut Fitch, who fought in the promotion for eight years, four months ago.

“I got a little overconfident with my choke defense,” Fitch said. “I was going to slam him but he locked it in too tight, a mistake on my part.”

Fitch’s record fell to 1-3-1 over the last two years, giving further credence to UFC President Dana White’s assertion that his best days are behind him.

White and the UFC also let Burkman go years ago, but no one thinks “The Ultimate Fighter” 2 veteran is on the downside of his career. He’s now won eight of nine fights, including upsets in each of the three WSOF events so far, since his release from the world’s largest fighting promotion.

None were more meaningful than this one.

“I think it does validate my win streak,” Burkman said. “I think it also comes full circle. My career kind of went up and down after I lost to Fitch. To get this one back is big for me, and big for my career.”

Read below for results from the rest of the fights on the card.

Burkman may have watched his likely next challenger minutes before walking out for his own fight. Steve Carl submitted Tyson Steele with a rear-naked choke at 1:32 of the first round in the welterweight co-main event. Burkman and Steele are expected to face off for the first-ever WSOF welterweight championship.

Action was sparse as the crowd grew disinterested with a lightweight bout between Jacob Volkmann and Lyle Beerbohm. The UFC castoff ultimately out-wrestled the former Strikeforce fighter, as Volkmann won a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) over Beerbohm.

Justin Gaethje stayed perfect by winning his ninth professional bout, but not before encountering more adversity than he's accustomed to. Brian Cobb took Gaethje's back in the first round, but couldn't finish with a choke. The veteran would come to regret it, as Gaethje came back to score a TKO victory over Cobb at 2:19 of the third round with repeated leg kicks.

Jerrod Sanders beat Jeff Smith by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in a featherweight bout. Sanders relied on his wrestling prowess to power past Smith.

Lightweight Dan Lauzon won every round on every judges' scorecard to earn a unanimous decision over local John Gunderson. Lauzon knocked Gunderson down with a head kick early, escaped a submission attempt in the second round and kept the pressure on late.

Carson Beebe defeated Joe Murphy by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in a bantamweight bout. Several momentum swings took place as the fight was largely contested on the ground with the fighters trading submission attempts.

Bulgarian prospect Krasimir Mladenor scored a unanimous-decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) over Kendrick Miree in a middleweight bout. Mladenor kept his professional record perfect with a ninth consecutive victory while Miree lost for the first time in six attempts.

Brenson Hansen defeated Josh Montalvo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) in a featherweight bout. Hansen controlled the entire 15 minutes with his wrestling.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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