UFC 96 was a great card (which wasn't expected to be so great). Over half the fights ended with KOs, which I'll take over a card full of decisions any day. We saw many fighters win in impressive fashion, but none were more impressive than Shane Carwin's victory.
There were many elements surrounding this fight that should've been weighing heavily on Carwin's chest. This was considered his first "real" test, his first fight against a top level heavyweight.
It was during this fight that Carwin showed the quality of a champion.
Carwin was rocked hard very early in the fight. Gonzaga landed two hard shots, and as Carwin backed into the cage it was painfully obvious that he was hurt. Gonzaga worked for a take down, and quickly had Carwin on his back.
Gonzaga is a black belt in BJJ, so this seemed to be the beginning of the end. However, Carwin showed both heart and composure, as he effortlessly got back to his feet (which was very impressive to say the least).
Most fighters would've been timid after taking those shots from Gonzaga, but Carwin did not panic; he did not waver. He showed courage under fire, as he landed a jab and then a straight right to Gonzaga's jaw.
Gonzaga's body fell lifelessly to the mat, and Carwin wasted no time landing more blows, forcing the referee to stop the fight at 1:09 of the first round.
Before this fight, we knew Carwin was physically strong. Last night we were shown that he is also mentally strong. He didn't panic when he was rocked on his feet and he didn't panic when the BJJ specialist had him on the ground.
Carwin is now 11-0 with six knockouts. Also worth noting is that Carwin's hands are not his only means of securing a victory. His other five wins have come by submission, four of those being by choke, and one by strikes (OK, OK he used his hands again).
What's even scarier about this guy is that not one fight has made it to the two-minute mark of round one. Every single fight has been ended before that point, four of them during the first minute, his quickest being 22 seconds.
This guy has knockout power, a wrestling background, a good chin, and he knows how to finish a fight.
We were watching a future UFC heavyweight champion last night. If Carwin defeats another top level heavyweight, and does it in an impressive fashion, the UFC will more than likely give him a title shot.
Carwin is the real deal, and he will soon have his day. This guy also has custom 5XL gloves, bigger than Lesnar's custom 4XL gloves. Lesnar's no longer the biggest kid in the heavyweight yard.