"After not being able to get ahold of them for a long time, me and my management decided to go ahead and request my release due to my inactivity clause, and that was October 20. And immediately they tried defending themselves, basically saying I couldn't go, this, that, and another. Once we settled that they were in the wrong, due to my contract, they have 15 days to fix the situation. So I mean, all they had to do was give me a fight. Maybe a little bit of money, but give me a fight is the biggest thing, and it didn't happen. They went right back to just ignoring the calls and the texts. Today (Wednesday) was day 15, so we decided to go ahead and terminate the contract."
When contacted by MMAFighting.com, WSOF executive vice president and matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz denied accusations that Carl's appeals were ignored, stating that Carl's contracted inactivity clause instead kicked in only once the fighter was officially cleared to compete on Aug. 29, and that the welterweight was "penciled in to fight" in early 2015.
"From the day we got the release on August 29, we have six months to get him a fight," said Abdel-Aziz. "I was probably going to have him fight in February or March, to be honest with you. I need contenders at 170 and he's a top-level fighter, he's not an average fighter. But from the day I received the medical release, from August 29, I have six months to find him an opponent. I don't appreciate the way he went at it, because I was going to give him a fight probably in March or February, to be honest with you, or maybe the co-main event in January."
To further complicate matters, both Carl and Abdel-Aziz agree that WSOF were in the preliminary stages of booking a proposed rematch at WSOF 15 against former title contender Josh Burkman, however the bout fell apart in early October before an official offer could be made.
"I'd already spoken to Josh," said Carl. "Josh was going to make a sizable amount of money more than me to give him that rematch, and I asked (WSOF executive) Shawn (Lampman), could he pay me the same amount of money? Everybody thought that was reasonable, (WSOF president) Ray (Sefo) thought that was reasonable.
"The last conversation I had with them, I was under the impression that me and Josh were going to fight and it was going to happen. It was just going to be a one-time deal, I was going to make $10k/$10k more to match Josh's pay, and then go back to my contracted pay. Then five hours later I find out Burkman is in the UFC. There was a lot of promised fights after that and nothing happened.
"First I was told they would give me a quick fight on the Canada card (WSOF 11). Then I was told I would be on the November card. But then the second they let Burkman go, they signed two more title fights and then told me I couldn't be on the November card because there wasn't anymore main card slots, and just the other day they added another main card fight."
Carl (21-4) exits WSOF holding a 3-1 record inside the promotion, and an overall 7-1 record since his departure from Bellator in 2011. All seven of Carl's wins over that span came via submission, the first six of which ended inside the first round, and the last which was highlighted by his title-winning fourth-round chokeout of Burkman last October.
Now 29 years old, with an uncertain future ahead of him, Carl hopes to simply be able to make the most out of his prime years and continue what has been an otherwise impressive fighting career.
"I gotta make a run for this and make some money," he said. "Even sitting on a loss eight months out, I'm still sitting in the top-25 and I want to prove I'm better than that."
"Steve Carl chose to show he's unhappy, and World Series of Fighting, we're not going to keep anybody unhappy anymore," said Abdel-Aziz. "If you're unhappy, you can go. There are a hundred-million fighters out there who can fight. And listen, Steve Carl was getting paid top dollar. Now Steve Carl, maybe he can go fight for RFA or fight for Titan. I don't know what he can make, but I wish him the best of luck.