UFC 116: Lesnar vs Carwin for the real title
There was a terrifying moment in Brock Lesnar’s life when he nearly saw his career as a Mixed Martial Artist destroyed by diverticulitis last fall. Through a miracle or his own resilience, he’s recovered and is raring to go—but ring rust may be a factor when he steps into the cage against Shane Carwin this Saturday. After all, it will have been nearly a year since his last fight against Frank Mir at the record-setting UFC 100 pay-per-view show.
“Life proposes different challenges, and the great champions, they rise to the occasion,” explained Lesnar of his upcoming bout during the UFC 116 conference call.
It’s a stretch to call any fighter with just five fights under their belt a great champion at this point. Lesnar’s three best wins come against a declining Randy Couture, a revenge match over former UFC champion Frank Mir, and Pride gatekeeper Heath Herring. If he can become the very first man to beat 12-0 Shane Carwin, a fighter with only two quality wins against Gabriel Gonzaga and Frank Mir himself, he’ll be able to start building a credible legacy that could be remembered for years to come.
When you’re a former WWE wrestler who used to need to cut weight to make the 265 lb limit for the UFC’s heavyweight division, ridicule and minimization of talent are par for the course among the plethora of ignorant fans that populate the MMA universe. Many have suggested that Lesnar simply uses size and strength to outmuscle opponents rather than finessed skills and tactical genius to get the upper hand. But what’s often overlooked are Brock’s college wrestling credentials: Lesnar was the NCAA heavyweight champion in 2000, and amassed an impressive 106-5 record during his four years combined at Bismarck Junior College and the University of Minnesota.
Lesnar is aware of the dangers of stagnation, which is why he’s made changes for this camp.
“I brought in Peter Welch, a new boxing coach that I’ve been working with since January,” says Lesnar, who also mentions that he added a new strength and conditioning coach to his team.
Although Lesnar suffered his only defeat through submission against Frank Mir in a controversial fight (he nearly ground-and-pounded Mir into a stoppage win only to have the ref deduct a point for hitting to the back of the head and thus sapped Lesnar’s momentum), the question as to whether Carwin will test his chin is a good one. Being an NCAA Division II wrestling champion in 1999 suggests that Carwin might be able to stop the takedown and keep the fight standing where he is perceived to have the advantage—but Brock’s improved striking will be the decisive factor in the fight if that happens.