The biggest man inside the UFC octagon not named Brock Lesnar is fellow heavyweight star-in-the-making Shane Carwin.
Like Lesnar, he is blessed with a rare combination of size, strength, and athleticism that is unparalleled in MMA today.
Both men stand well over six feet tall (Carwin 6’4,” Lesnar 6’3”) and have to cut weight to reach the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds before their fights.
Prior to UFC 96 the fans and media could not quite figure out Shane Carwin. Everyone knew he was physically gifted and had potential, but that was the extent of their assessments.
Carwin was just 2–0 in the UFC and 10–0 overall in his young career at that juncture. His two UFC wins were first round knockouts against Christian Wellisch and Neil Wain, neither of which is considered a top level contender. He had never fought a top flight contender prior to joining the UFC either.
The combination of the small sample size of fights and lack of quality opponents was puzzling when trying to determine how he would perform against a world class heavyweight like his UFC 96 adversary Gabriel Gonzaga.
Needless to say Carwin set the record straight very quickly and was able to answer a lot of critics that night. It was another victory on the resume and yet another first round knockout. To this day he has yet to see the second round as a professional fighter.
The win over the former No. 1 heavyweight contender Gonzaga was essentially a fair warning to the rest of the division that he’s a legitimate contender and he is going to be a tough matchup for anyone.
Fresh off another day of training, Carwin took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions regarding his past, present, and uncertain future.
Continue reading to find out how he is progressing from injury, how important Nate Marquardt has been to his success, and who he’d be happy fighting if he doesn’t get the opportunity to face the Frank Mir/Brock Lesnar UFC 100 winner.
Derek Bolender: I’d like to travel back to the night of UFC 96 for a second. Gabriel Gonzaga lands a couple good shots on you and then takes you down. You find yourself on your back with a jiu-jitsu black belt on top of you. What was going through your head at that moment?
Shane Carwin: At that moment I was pretty calm and composed by then. My only thoughts were to get up and get out and get back on the feet again. Stuff that has worked a thousand times in training.
I’ve got black belts on top of me like Eliot Marshall and Nate Marquardt all the time. It wasn’t like anything that was unfamiliar to me. My major goal was just to get up and get back to the feet with Gabe.
Derek Bolender: I understand that you broke your nose during that fight. When did you have the surgery, how long were you out of commission, and have you started training again?
Shane Carwin: I don’t remember the exact date but it was at least a couple weeks after (UFC 96) before I got in to do surgery. I still haven’t been cleared to spar, which is hopefully going to happen within the next couple weeks. I guess that’s about it with the nose.
Derek Bolender: Have you been able to focus on other aspects of your game like your cardio in the mean time?
Shane Carwin: Yeah, I’ve been working on my strength and explosion. Mostly focusing on getting my strength back up and working on my explosion through my hips. Right now I’m weighing almost 280 (pounds).
Derek Bolender: Was the layoff hard for you? Have you been chomping at the bit to get back into sparring?
Shane Carwin: Yeah you know, you always miss the guys and being part of the team and being in there with them. I’ve been able to do a little technique here and there and working on that so I still get to see them.
Derek Bolender: You mentioned Nate Marquardt. What a lot of people out there probably don’t know is how much of an impact he’s had on your career. Talk a little bit about how you originally crossed paths with Nate and what he’s meant to your development as a mixed martial artist?
Shane Carwin: We can put it like this…. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without Nate Marquardt. I was fortunate enough to meet him after my second fight in Hawaii (in March 2006). I think he was cornering a guy named Danny Higgins who was actually, I believe, a bodyguard for Steve Irwin (the late “Crocodile Hunter”).
I happened to catch up with Nate in the airport and we got to talking. I realized he was from Colorado and down in Aurora and just how much more he could bring to my game.
For me to be able to take it serious. To be able to go down there and train and stuff. He really invested. We just hit it off after that.
Derek Bolender: Is it true that you have a purple belt in jiu-jitsu under Nate as well?
Shane Carwin: Yeah it is. I do have a purple belt under Nate. Nate’s also responsible for introducing me to Trevor Whittman (current boxing coach) and Christian Allen (current jiu-jitsu coach).
Derek Bolender: I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that 5 of your 11 victories are by way of submission. Just how good is your ground game and when can we expect to see your first gogoplata?
Shane Carwin: (laughs) Well, I don’t know if you’ll ever see a gogoplata out of me. It’s something I continually work on (ground game). I continue to take technique classes in both jiu-jitsu and boxing and MMA wrestling as well.
I continue to train technique in all that stuff just to make sure that I continue to improve in all that stuff. I’m nowhere near the potential that I see myself as an evolved fighter.
Derek Bolender: You’re still the only top level fighter I know that has a full time job outside of MMA. You obviously love being an engineer and it’s something you take seriously. Out of curiosity, what are some of the projects you’re currently involved in at the North Weld County Water District?
Shane Carwin: At the North Weld County Water District … (repeats and laughs). Boy, you really make me sound country there.
Well I’m in charge of the hydraulic model. It’s a computer replica basically of our water distribution system. Off of that I can do any type of subdivision review, fire flow demands, any other requirements that our distribution system might need. I set up the chlorine model in it as well.
I’m also in charge of setting up and working on new projects and designs like pump stations. Anything from new infrastructure, to new water lines going in, to getting easements from land owners. My projects vary there.
It makes it interesting day to day, you know, inside and outside (the office). I went to school for a reason, so I can have a job like this. I love my job.
Derek Bolender: Even with your busy schedule you seem to have found time recently to dive into the Twitter craze. Last time I checked you 213 followers now. What can we expect to see Shane Carwin tweeting about going forward and why is it important for you to have that one-on-one interface with your fans?
Shane Carwin: I know fans like to keep up on that stuff and be a part of an MMA fighter’s life or anybody’s life, just know what’s going on day-to-day.
I think it’s important for them to see that and to see what’s going on and just continually try to give them new information here and there on what’s going on.
Derek Bolender: Moving forward, I’ve seen video of you online recently expressing desire to fight Brock Lesnar. I’m assuming you think he’ll beat Frank Mir at UFC 100 and you want the first crack him? Correct me where I’m wrong here.
Shane Carwin: No you’re right. I want whoever holds that belt. That’s my end goal. Right now Brock has it. Until Frank proves otherwise Brock still has it. We’ll see at 100.
I’m not saying that Brock’s the winner or loser. I think Frank’s a great opponent and very talented and that fight can go either way. If Frank takes that away then I want Frank Mir. I just continually try to climb that ladder as they call it, to the next rung.
Derek Bolender: There is a lot of buzz out there about a possible matchup with you and Brock Lesnar simply because of your similar backgrounds. Say he’s lucky enough to come away with a victory against Frank Mir and you guys get the opportunity to knock each other’s heads around a little bit. How would you envision a fight going with Brock Lesnar? What would you be able to do to him in the cage?
Shane Carwin: I think it’s going to be interesting stylistically because we’re both wrestlers. Probably pretty similar as far as where we’re at in our games. I might have a little more experience than him but obviously he’s been in bigger fights, a couple bigger fights of championship caliber under him.
I would envision that fight taking place on the feet and throwing some big haymakers at each other, some bombs. That sounds like a good time to me.
Derek Bolender: I would expect the winner of the Lesnar/Mir fight to defend the belt likely in fourth quarter 2009. Can you wait that long for a title shot or will you realistically have to have one more fight between now and then?
Shane Carwin: If the UFC thinks that another fight is in store and they want to go off the top of the list up there I’m fine with that too. I’ll take a fight before that.
Derek Bolender: Has the UFC contacted you about a potential next opponent up to this point?
Shane Carwin: I haven’t been contacted at all.
Derek Bolender: Have you let them know when you would like to fight again?
Shane Carwin: No that hasn’t even...not until I’m medically cleared are they worried about that.
Derek Bolender: If for some reason you don’t get the title shot against the Lesnar/Mir winner are there any other heavyweights out there that you would like to fight?
Shane Carwin: Whoever they throw at me. I know (Cheick) Kongo’s up there right now. If they throw that matchup at me to take place I’d be happy with that matchup. Like I said, one rung at a time. Whatever they deem necessary for me to do that then I’ll take care of that.
As far as naming opponents and stuff I’m not too concerned. I can sit here and name all the names I want but they’re the ones that get to chose in the end. For me to sit here and waste any energy on naming names wouldn’t make any sense for me to get worried about that.
Derek Bolender: Well Shane that’s all I had for you. Thank you for your time. Is there anything you would like to pass along to your fans out there or any sponsors you want to thank?
Shane Carwin: I just want to say a big thanks to all my fans out there following and all the supporters. Especially all the supporters of MMA in general. It’s a growing sport and it’s only going to continue to get better.
Derek Bolender: Thanks again Shane. Best of luck in the future.
Shane Carwin: Thanks.
Derek Bolender is a freelance MMA columnist. His articles have been featured on InsideFights.com, FoxSports.com, CBSSports.com, BleacherReport.com, and TopGunMMA.com. Send Derek a question or comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.