When Shane Carwin got the call that he was being moved from a top contenders bout with Cain Velasquez at UFC 104 directly into a title fight with Brock Lesnar at UFC 106, it was one of the happiest days of his life. After being in untelevised undercard matches for most of his UFC career, Carwin was finally getting a shot at proving he was the best heavyweight fighter on the planet. Not only that, but his big break was coming against a fighter he didn’t respect as a man,
“I was preparing for a beast in Cain Velasquez when they changed opponents on me. I took a week off and came back even more focused and dedicated,” Carwin told Heavy.com in an exclusive interview. “This is the first time that I am getting ready for a fight with a little hate for my opponent.”
MMA has become famous for its elaborate displays of respect. Fighters touch gloves, hug, help each other up, anything to disguise the fact that they are engaged in an incredibly violent and primal form of competition. Lesnar, who came from the world of professional wrestling, flouted all those unwritten rules. He taunted Heath Herring and got in Frank Mir’s face after his win at UFC 100. That didn’t sit right with Carwin.
“I had some friends in the area who watched that show, and they were watching the UFC for the first time,” said Carwin. “And they were just appalled by what he had done. Especially what he did with Frank Mir, getting in his face after the victory? That’s just disrespectful. You’re supposed to have the utmost respect for anybody that goes in there to compete against you. Those are the first words you see when you walk into any dojo.”
It seemed like a dream, but those brief happy moments have turned into a continuing nightmare for the heavy hitter from Colorado. Lesnar had to bow out of the fight at UFC 106 and again said no mas, this time to a replacement date at UFC 108. It became clear that the champion was more than a little ill. Carwin was torn-UFC sources told Heavy.com that he would be free to wait on Lesnar and take the first shot at the title when the champ was back in fighting form.
But the clock continues to click for Carwin. He turns 35 next month and by the time he fights next it will have been a year since he stopped Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 96. He needs a fight, even if it isn’t Lesnar and one has presented itself to him in the form of Frank Mir. Mir, who demolished Cheick Kongo last weekend in Memphis, wants to stay active and wants to fight Carwin for an interim title.
“The main question I am getting is would I fight Frank? The answer is easy YES. I am not a fighter who decides who he fights, I fight who I am told to fight,” Carwin responded on his official website I like it that way, I am not trying to build a legacy I am trying to fight the best fighters in the World and determine where I fit in. Mir is a Multiple time Champion, who has been counted out more than Mike Tyson to only find himself right back at the top. He is a LEGEND of the sport and I would be honored to fight him.”
Carwin and Mir is a great fight and a perfect battle to determine the next top contender. While Carwin earned his title shot with candid comments taking shots at Lesnar online, those words will be months and months in the past by the time he hits the cage with Brock. They will need something more to make that a special fight. Mir is also battling a perception problem. He was demolished so thoroughly at UFC 100, manhandled so badly, that he needs more than a win over Kongo to make fans forget. To get his much desired rubber match with Lesnar, Mir could do nothing more convincing than beating a man almost as big, almost as strong, as the champion himself.
Mir-Carwin. The fighters are ready. The fans are ready. Let’s hope the UFC is ready too.