From the brink of defeat emerged the most clear cut contender to the heavyweight throne once Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar have had a chance to settle their differences at UFC 100.
6′ 2″, 260 pound powerhouse, Shane Carwin, hopped on a skyrocket and rode it to the top of the UFC’s heavyweight ranks when he dashed Gabriel Gonzaga‘s title aspirations with a bone jarring right hand in their bout at UFC 96.
Going into the bout with ten first round stoppages in ten bouts for a combined total of eleven minutes and thirteen seconds, many expected for the massive Greeley, Colorado native to be pushed harder than he had before in a bout that would very likely make it out of the initial round.
Well, half of the expectations came to fruition in the heavyweight slugfest. Although Carwin was hardly pushed past the one minute mark, let alone the first round, he was most definitely pushed harder in his bout with Gonzaga than he ever had previously during his time in mixed martial arts.
A pulverizing right cross left Carwin rocked worse than ever before in his fighting career. Showing the trademark of a true warrior, Carwin managed to clinch the dangerous Brazilian up in an effort to regather his senses and battle back. Although Gonzaga managed to drag Carwin to the canvas, the former collegiate national wrestling champion used the cage like a long time veteran to get himself back to his feet where he was able to deliver the devastating right hand that sent Gonzaga tumbling to the canvas in a heap.
The biggest win of the top heavyweight prospect’s career didn’t come without it’s share of setbacks. Carwin suffered a deviated septum from the Gonzaga punch that left him reeling. An extremely painful injury that requires surgery and an agonizing recovery.
“The nose was already broke and Gabe re-broke it, so the damage was extensive and I’m still having issues with the recovery,” confessed Carwin in an exclusive interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com. “I hope I can get back in the gym soon.”
The undefeated heavyweight would be lying if he said he wasn’t hurt from the powerful right hand courtesy of Gonzaga. Luckily for him, the countless hours spent in the gym leading up to the bout left him with an engraved memory of what he needed to do to get himself out of trouble in his brain.
“I was rocked, next thing I knew I was defending the single leg and he swept me,” said Carwin. “When I hit the mat, it was like my coaches had a mic in my ear, I did exactly what we worked on in training, and that was it. My coaches are the best in the business.”
While many heavyweights would be content with a first round knockout of one of the divisions most highly regarded competitors, Carwin refuses to settle for merely being content. His hunger to constantly improve his skills in the octagon is a healthy one to have. Especially when you’re goal is to become the undisputed best big man in the sport.
“I am my worst critic,” admitted the former All-American linebacker. “I am anxious to get to work on improving my skills. I have a lot to learn, a lot to improve, a lot to prove to the fans, Zuffa, and myself.”
“The more time I get in the ring and gym, the more confident I feel. I have a lot to learn and I am eager to become the best.”
Finding an opponent that can push Carwin out of the first round is starting to become a serious problem for the heavyweight. However, if you were to ask him, it’s not a problem at all. The faster he can bring an end to his fights, the better.
“I am 34 years old, the less punishment I take, the longer I will be able to fight,” said Carwin. “If I can finish my opponents with little or no damage I will do so every time. I’m trying to build a legacy in this sport.”
Don’t let the suddenness of Carwin’s bouts fool you into thinking he wouldn’t be prepared to go five hard rounds if need be. It’s not his fault that those standing across from him have continuously withered under the pressure he presents. When the UFC finds him someone that can last longer than a minute or two with him, rest assured that Carwin will be ready.
“We train five rounds at just above a mile above sea level,” explained Carwin. “I am in the best shape in my life.”
“So far in 11 opponents none have been able to last with me. I think it is a little silly to question me or my gas tank when I have not been given an opponent that can make it out of the 1st.”
“Fact is, our coaches prepare us for battle at the championship level. I get better, meaner and hungrier as the rounds progress. I cant wait for an opportunity to show my fans what I am all about.”
From covers of magazines, countless interviews and endless media appearances, Carwin will admit freely that the recent wave of attention has been somewhat of a culture shock for him. While the attention in undoubtedly flattering, it’s one part of his recent success in the octagon that the mild mannered gentle giant may never become fully adjusted to.
“It is very humbling to have people seek your autograph or handshake,” said Carwin. “I doubt I will ever really get used to it, I’m just a guy chasing his dream and its surreal to have people I don’t know take note.”
Even before the bout with Gonzaga many were speculating that the winner would likely end up with the next shot at the UFC’s heavyweight championship. According to Carwin, the possibility that his next bout will be for the championship gold is out of his hands, but a possibility he would absolutely consider.
“I would leave that up to my coaches and the UFC,” explained Carwin. “If they think I am ready, I trust that they can and will put together the right game plan for me.”
If his next bout does end up being for all the marbles in UFC’s heavyweight division, it will most likely be against one of two men. Two men that the up and coming powerhouse has the utmost respect for.
“Brock is a super athlete who is training hard like the rest of us,” said the proud father when asked about how he would expect to match up with either UFC champion.”I would expect a total war and a reinforced Octagon.”
“Nothing but respect for Mir,” Carwin continued. “Mir is dangerous. He is a great Champion who beat a great warrior to earn the belt. I hope he gets healthy soon and I look forward to seeing him and Brock go at it.”
Whether or not his next bout is for the title or not, according to Carwin, championship glory is an inevitability. He wouldn’t be doing this if he wasn’t positive that he would one day rest at the top of the heavyweight mountain in the UFC.
“I would not be training as hard as I am, or making the sacrifices, if I did not believe in my heart I have what it takes to win that belt,” concluded the contender to the throne.
“I would like to thank T’s KO, Team Jackson, my family, training partners and my manager for all of their support. Big thanks to my sponsors Muscle Pharm, Max Muscle, MTX Audio, CarnalDammage, Xyience, Full Tilt, and Vandal.”