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Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shane Carwin expected to be added to UFC 96 in March

UFC heavyweight prospect Shane Carwin

Even though the event has yet to be officially announced, the UFC is poised to return to the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio for the third consecutive year with UFC 96 on Saturday, March 7.

And while no matchups have yet to formally be released to the public, can exclusively report that a heavyweight clash between former heavyweight title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and former NCAA Division II wrestling champion Shane Carwin is now set to take place.

Gonzaga is 10-3 and trains out of Team Link in Massachusetts. The jiu-jitsu black belt’s most high-profile fight took place at UFC 74 in August of 2007 when he lost to then-UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture via third round TKO.

Following the loss to Couture, the native Brazilian then suffered a second round TKO defeat at the hands of Fabricio Werdum at UFC 80 last January. However, since that time, Gonzaga has once again begun to climb the championship ladder with consecutive wins.

Facing former professional wrestler Justin McCully at UFC 86, Gonzaga submitted the Team Punishment member with a Kimura at just 1:57 into the bout. He followed up dominant victory with another first round finish last month by knocking out UFC newcomer Josh Hendricks just 1:01 into the fight.

The 33-year old Carwin is not only a former D2 wrestling champion, but he is a former two-time NCAA Division II All-American in football who once went to training camp with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

The Colorado native made his pro MMA debut in 2005 and has gone 10-0 in that time with notable victories over Justice Smith of American Gladiators fame, former IFO heavyweight champion Chris Guillen, former Arena Football League star Rex Richards, and former UFC veteran Sherman Pendergarst.

After beginning his career with an 8-0 record, Carwin began to attract interest from multiple major national promotions, including EliteXC. His name had actually prematurely appeared on Showtime’s website last January in an advertised match against Antonio Silva at “Street Certified.” However, Carwin never formally signed with EliteXC and actually accepted less money to sign with the UFC, as he considered the promotion to be the NFL of mixed martial arts.

Debuting at UFC 84 in May, Carwin needed just 44 seconds to knock out Christian Wellisch of the American Kickboxing Academy. He returned at UFC 89 in October, where he took all of 1:31 of round 1 to TKO British heavyweight Neil Wain. The win over Wain marked the tenth consecutive time an opponent had failed to escape the first round against Carwin.

Since arriving in the UFC, Carwin’s punching prowess has been better than advertised. While still considered a prospect, his solid standup coupled with his tremendous wrestling base could make him a title contender sooner than initially anticipated. By taking a major step up in competition at UFC 96, it’s possible that the winner of Gonzaga vs. Carwin could find themselves in prime position for a future heavyweight title shot.

  • Voridor says:

    Finally Carwin gets a prime opponite to test his level. This is going to be a great fight and a real challenge for both fighters. Hats off to Joe Silva and the UFC for making a great matchup. I expect Carwin to keep it inside and go for the KO and Gonzaga to work the ground for submissions. Maybe a knockout in Gonzagas guard for Carwin…I will have to think about it some more.

  • Jeremy says:

    Definitely an excellent fight and one I am looking forward to see. Should be a very stern test for Carwin, and at the very least a better test for Gonzaga then his last opponent.

    I would have thought though that Cain Velasquez might have gotten this kind of test before Carwin would have.

  • Austin says:

    Carwin by TKO, round 2.

  • matt says:

    The only reasons I can figure as to why they haven’t tested Cain yet are: 1. AKA/UFC issues or 2. they recognize he’s only 4-0 and super young and that they have a young potentially top 5 talent as long as they bring him along slowly.

  • flassassin says:

    Carwin isn’t AKA- you’re thinking of Velasquez

  • glock says:

    FINALLY…. We finally get to see what Carwins got to offer in real world terms. I have no problem with him being brought along slowly, but as Buffer says
    ” iiiiiiitttttttssssss TIME !!! ”
    Oops, i mean,
    (POWER PIVOT) ” iiiiiiitttttttsssss TIME !!! “

  • dpk says:

    I would bet that the winner is going to be No 1 contender to fight the Lesnar v Mir/Nog winner. I’m glad Carwin is stepping up in competition, this should be a awesome heavy hitting fight. I am going to take Carwin by TKO.

  • JOe K. says:

    Gonzaga is way underrated.

    He would have beat Couture but his nose got broken by Couture’s head during a slam and blood ran down the back of his throat throughout the whole fight so he gassed quick.

    He’s a beast, he’s complete, and he will be Carwin.

    I think Gonzaga Lesnar would be a good fight because Gonzaga can strike and has great jitz. He’s gotta earn his way up there though. I think if he takes care of Carwin convincingly that will put him in line.

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    “He would have beat Couture but his nose got broken by Couture’s head during a slam and blood ran down the back of his throat throughout the whole fight so he gassed quick. ”

    He breaks down mentally. His fight with Couture was the first example, his fight with Werdum was the second.

    It’s funny, he’s kind of like CroCop. If the fight’s not going his way, he loses focus and motivation.

  • chris says:

    good fight im going carwin gonzaga seems to fold under pressure and carwin is gonna put a lot of pressure. carwin is gonna beat him standing and if gonzaga can’t get a takedmwm he’ll give up. gonzaga could be great if he didn’t break down mentally.

  • BigDave says:

    This matchup has the potential to be really good. These are 2 fighters with alot to prove in there quest for a title shot. the keys to the fight for both guys is, For Carwin bring the fight to gonzaga push in fast and keep up the pressure Gonzaga will gas. For Gonzaga use side to side movement be elusive time your shots once it goes to the ground its in gonzagas wheelhouse. I predict that it will be a 2nd rd sub by gonzaga by armbar. Gonzaga has fought the better compatition and i think will be a bit to much for carwin to handle espceally should it go to ground.

  • Cathedron says:

    Great matchup. I’m hoping Carwin will live up to his potential here. Gonzaga won’t be an easy opponent. Carwin’s wrestling should nullify Gonzaga’s ground game (to a point), so I’m expecting a short, brutal slugfest.

  • Chris says:

    Wow, this is a huge fight in terms of the next HW title shot. Once a true HW champ is crowned, you got Carwin, Cain V, Gonzaga, Kongo all in the mix for next shot, right now it seems to be Gonzaga is at the front, but if Carwin wins that fight, I can see a Brock if he is the champ vs Carwin fight, wow, that would be great, oh yeah, my bad, also the guy who beat Werdum, Dos Santos or whatever, he should be in the mix too. But this wont be for a while, figure Brock vs Mir/Nogs wont be till May or so figure next title shot wont come till the fall, so Carwin/Gonzaga winner could fight Kongo by then or Cain V, then a true HW contender will emerge. But this is gonna be a great fight.

    This card seems to be getting good
    Carwin vs Gonzaga
    Huerta vs Fisher
    And I heard maybe Chuck vs Jardine rematch, thats a big card if those fights are all on it.

  • Rich S. says:

    whoa.. great news..

    Gabriel has continued to feel better and better about his striking since the CroCop fight..

    and you could really tell in his last bout..

    so, he may just try to stand with Carwin the whole time, which could result in a nasty knockout by Carwin [or another insane miracle ko from Gonzaga]

    but, one thing with Carwin, is that his insane amount of adrenaline could push him to just slam GG to the ground, where, i feel, he’d get submitted..

  • Chris says:

    Chuck vs Jardine
    Carwin vs Gonzaga or manbearpig
    and maybe Huerta vs Spencer Fisher

    Thats a good card, but if Chuck vs Jardine will be on the March card, that means that UFC 95 has to be on Spike now right, with Diego vs Joe Stevenson being the co main event, without Spider fighting or Chuck vs Jardine being the main event for that card, what other main event could they make to make it worth being a PPV? Diego vs Joe and Nate vs Wilson are great fights, but after that, they dont have any big fights on that card, so UFC 95 is in London, which are the cards that always get put on Spike, the Bisping card, was the Rampage/Hendo card in London? Anyway, so any news on if the UFC will put UFC 95 on Spike? I think they have too.

  • joe says:

    carwin vs gonzaga is awesome!! i will pay to see it

    great fight

  • Ervine383 says:

    Gonzaga would be a great fight for Brock. His striking paired with his size could pose some problems for Brock. Really i guess Carwin could pose the same problems, so i’d like to see Brock fight both of them in time.

  • JOe K. says:

    Despite all of the fighters being added to the HW division it still is not very stacked. Most of the fighters aren’t well rounded enough.

  • Rich S. says:

    Spot on, Sergio..

    you could see how confident Gonzaga was during the Cro Cop bout, or even his most recent bout against Hendricks..

    but in the bouts with Couture and Werdum, he seemed broken after a while..

    it seems like all it took was a few takedowns from Randy or legkicks from Werdum, and Gonzaga just felt defeated..

    i think if Carwin can land a few big shots, or stop a few takedowns, GG will break..

  • Mark H. says:

    I saw this fight coming. Either Carwin was going to fight Gonzaga or Herring…I’m glad it’s Gonzaga. Carwin would wipe the floor with Herring. Gonzaga is good, but doesn’t have the heart that Carwin does. Also, Carwin’s striking is still way underrated. Gonzaga will have trouble with Carwin’s size, strength, speed, takedown defense and will break down mentally. Don’t forget, Carwin doesn’t just train at altitude, he lives at altitude. So cardio isn’t going to be an issue here. Also, he trains with Nate Marquardt so I bet he’s getting some good BJJ skills to match. I think this may go to the second round, but not far into it. I can’t wait for this fight!!!! My pick is Carwin via ground and pound around 2 minutes of round 2.


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