Pictured: Steve Carl. Photo via Bellator
Steve Carl has a goal and he's as focused on it as possible.
He wants to fight in the UFC.
The 18-3 welterweight has experience against some of the best non-UFC fighters out there, competing in the loaded Bellator 170 pound division against the likes of Douglas Lima, Tyler Stinson, Dan Hornbuckle and many more.
When he felt like he wasn't getting an opportunity to be active enough in the promotion, he asked for, and was granted, his release.
Ever since, he's gone 4-0 with four quick first round stoppages including a very impressive 55 second submission of Wisconsin prospect Andrew Trace in his last fight. At the moment, he's just trying to compile wins and get on the radar of the big players in MMA who can make his dreams come true.
Carl spoke to MMAmania.com about his recent string of solid performances, his history with Bellator and his UFC aspirations in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): In your last fight, you went out there and took care of business against a pretty talented prospect, a kid that was 7-1 and was one of the better prospects out of Wisconsin in Andrew Trace. Can you talk about your performance?
Steve Carl: Yeah, I got wind of that fight. I didn't necessarily run through him, I just knew that if I went out there and performed then that's what I was capable of. It wasn't even a question in my mind. I just went out there and performed to the best of my ability and that's exactly what happened. I felt like the performance was in tune and I want to fight again quickly.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've been on an incredible roll. Ever since that last tough loss in Bellator, you've won four straight, all first round stoppages. Was that a shift in mentality where you're just trying to go out there and blitz these guys?
Steve Carl: Oh yeah. I think that loss to Lima really put it in my mind of what I need to do. I think with that fight against Douglas, I was not quite all there mentally. I felt beat before I even got in the cage and I almost got the fight finished a couple times. I feel like if I had the right mentality, I'd have gone in there and dominated that fight. That's the way I want to fight from now on. I want to be bringing the fight to that person and I want to be beating that person for every second of the fight. It was more about respecting myself and my potential. If I want to be great, I have to go out there and be great. I have to go for it. I don't want to hold back. I don't want to play the "what if?" games anymore. I just want to go out there and do it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah, you dropped him in the first round and had Lima on the ropes for a moment.
Steve Carl: But then I sat back and let him come back and get top control and regain himself. I didn't keep the pressure on him. I let him dictate the pace. I got in his face but I didn't attack enough. I gave him too much respect basically. I didn't go out there and fight my fight and respect someone on what they're gonna do.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You had a pretty serious thumb injury and you've mentioned that your range of motion has never been quite the same. How have you adapted things because obviously it's working well right now?
Steve Carl: If you ever get an injury, you have to find ways to work around it. There's some things I can't do, there's holds I don't use anymore because it puts too much pressure on that thumb but honestly, I don't even realize have that problem because I just naturally don't tuck my thumb in anymore if I'm trying to hold somebody's wrist and I know it can twist that way so I just palm grip it and it works.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It definitely worked in your last fight, slamming Trace to the canvas and submitting him quickly.
Steve Carl: Yeah, I wanted to have a strong showing. I wanted to go out there and put a stamp on it. I've been wanting more fights so I've been on the phone all day with every promoter I can think of, even saying I'll take fights cheaper than normal and at the last minute. I'm down.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After that last fight, because you stepped in on short notice to face Andrew Trace, his originally scheduled opponent, Lenny Nelson who's 8-2 and a pretty solid welterweight himself in the Wisconsin area called you out. He said he wanted to fight you at their next show. Is that something you'd be open to doing if you can't find a fight?
Steve Carl: I saw he was making some noise online and I simply wrote back that I would fight him at any time, any place and if it came down to it, I'd fight him for free. (laughs) I can't turn an offer down. He'd be a very easy fight with a decent record. I'm definitely down for that fight as soon a possible.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Are you just trying to get as many fights as quickly as you can right now? You've had three fights in a pretty short timespan, especially the last two.
Steve Carl: Well I just recently got out of my Bellator contract and the reason why I asked to be released was because of lack of fights. I like to compete and I feel like I've been shelved for a while lately. It was a 13 month break before I fought Lima and then I had another 7-8 month break before I took my first fight this year. I just want to fight. I feel great, I feel ready and let's just keep fighting. I've been training great and I'm finally at a point where I just feel mentally ready to where I feel like I don't have to mentally prepare myself for weeks or months before each fight. I don't need a name, I just need a face to fight. I'm ready to get in the cage.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Are you also just trying to rack up as many quick wins as possible so you get on the map, perhaps draw the attention of the UFC?
Steve Carl: Yeah, that's the goal. Just keep putting on pressure, keep racking up wins. If it doesn't work this time, there's another fight and another fight. If I keep winning, sooner or later somebody's gonna take heed.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You finished that last fight very quickly, how soon would you be ready to go for another one?
Steve Carl: I'm back at the gym and I'm ready to go. A couple days after the fight, I got back in training, just trying to stay on weight so I can potentially take a fight if someone needs one next week.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): If the UFC comes calling and they need a short notice replacement for somebody, you're saying you'd step up immediately no questions asked?
Steve Carl: Oh no questions asked! A short notice fight for the UFC means you could make a main card. People get to see your fight. You get out there against somebody with a name and show people what you're really made of. Last minute for the UFC, I'm definitely down 100 percent.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you talk about this dream of being in the UFC? What is your end goal with this and how important would it be for you get that type of opportunity?
Steve Carl: I don't want to just make it to the UFC, I want to go out there and get some wins and make a name for myself. I just want to have fun with this while I can. I've had a lot of injuries in the past and a lot of things happen to my body that don't involve MMA. I know I can't do this forever so I want to enjoy it while I can. I've put a lot into this and I want to see how far I can go with it.
Steve would like to thank Complete Nutrition, New Fitness World, his teammates, Kevin Burns and the Grappler's Lair in Texas
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Is Carl close to fulfilling his dream? If not, now many more wins in a row would be a reasonable estimate to earn him an invite to the big show?