Carwin set for biggest challenge yet
By Nate Lawson, Inside Fights
Shane Carwin’s knockout victory over Frank Mir at UFC 111 was short and far from sweet.
It lasted just 3:48, with Carwin utilizing his superior strength and punching power to stifle anything the former UFC heavyweight champion could throw at him. Pushing Mir against the cage, Carwin put his dirty boxing to work, pummeling Mir with several vicious uppercuts before finishing the fight with some dominant ground and pound.
The first round stoppage victory earned “The Engineer” the interim heavyweight title in what he considered his toughest fight to date. However, Carwin will be facing the biggest test the division has to offer later this year when he meets UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar to unify the belts.
Lesnar’s greatest strength over the brief course of his career has been his superior size and his wrestling background, which have enabled him to smother and pound his way to the top of the heavyweight division in a relatively short time. Now, after recovering from career-threatening health problems, he’s back and ready to re-establish himself as the greatest heavyweight in the UFC.
Carwin matches those attributes with his own exceptional strength and collegiate wrestling background. His ferocious blows have led to 12 first-round knockout victories, four in the UFC.
While he's big, even for a heavyweight - 6-foot-2, 265 pounds - those who saw the two standing opposite each other at the Prudential Center last weekend would realize that Lesnar's still the much bigger man. Size certainly plays a role in the wrestling game.
The hardest part about judging Carwin’s chance of success against Lesnar at UFC 116 is that he hasn’t had to show how solid his wrestling skills are against any heavyweight, let alone the best in the division. Lesnar's a master of getting the fight to the ground and keeping it there. And while he has his opponents on the mat, the heavyweight champion is notorious for his relentless ground and pound.
If Carwin's able to keep the fight standing, he has more than a puncher’s chance of putting away the giant champion. But if the fight hits the floor with Lesnar on top, Carwin will need to be ready to outwrestle a man who's yet to experience any problems there.
But to win on his feet, Carwin needs to avoid Lesnar’s takedowns and use his powerful punching style. Lesnar’s size advantage should enable him to control the fight either against the cage or on the floor.
As impressive as Carwin was against Mir, it should be remembered that Lesnar also used him as a punching bag in UFC 100.
Carwin has this fight in his hands, literally. If he strikes hard, fast and strong in the Octagon on July 3, and can defend himself against the takedown, his KO streak could run to 13.
But if Carwin's unable to damage Lesnar while both are standing, and is unable to avoid the heavyweight champ’s constant takedown pressure, he's in for a beating.
Carwin's a phenomenal fighter who's earned the right to contest the heavyweight championship and prove the doubters wrong.