Is Shane Carwin the Man to Beat Brock Lesnar?
Shane Carwin's name usually resides in the top section of any "Who can beat Brock Lesnar?" list concocted by those who believe the champ to be nothing more than a weight advantage too great for smaller fighters to overcome.
If the rumors are true, Carwin will be getting his chance to prove Lesnar's detractors right at UFC 106, Nov. 21 in Las Vegas, NV.
An undisclosed injury sustained by Cain Velasquez made his poorly planned matchup with the undefeated Colorado native a no-go and may have pushed Carwin into the biggest fight of his life a little earlier than anticipated.
For the record, the Carwin-Velasquez fight was poorly planned because there is no real point in sacrificing one of your emerging contenders at the expense of another, especially when you have a shallow talent pool to begin with.
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Since Lesnar's emergence and rapid rise to the top of the UFC heavyweight ranks, Carwin has been viewed as the fighter with the right mix of size and skill to challenge the ultra-athletic genetic freak.
Unlike Randy Couture and Frank Mir, who entered the cage at a distinct disadvantage in the weight department, Carwin fights close to the ceiling of the 265-pound class and presents a 6'4" frame for the champion to contend with.
But it isn't only size that propels Carwin to the head of the class when discussions turn to challengers for the championship gold.
Carwin's background as a collegiate wrestler and two-time All-American status as a football player are both brought into the discussion.
The accolades on the gridiron are certainly impressive, especially considering Carwin played at relatively unknown Western State College.
However, the small stature of his school also must be taken into account when assessing his wrestling accomplishments.
Carwin was the 1999 NCAA Division II Wrestling Heavyweight National Champion, an impressive feat that surely signals a strong wrestling base to accompany the dynamite-infused hands displayed by the one-time NFL hopeful.
That same year, Lesnar was the runner-up for the Division I crown before claiming the top prize in 2000, amassing a record of 106-5 in the process. Just a little perspective, that's all.
Of all the items in the Shane Carwin tool box that lead people to believe he is the strongest threat to Brock Lesnar's championship reign, it is the aforementioned fists full of dynamite at the end of his arms.
Through 11 professional fights, Carwin hasn't been beyond the halfway point of the first round once. His last four wins all look remarkably similar on his record:
* Gabriel Gonzaga: Win, KO (Punch)
* Neil Wain: Win, TKO (Punches)
* Christian Wellisch: Win, TKO (Punches)
* Sherman Pendergarst: Win, TKO (Punches)
Saying he has dangerous hands is like saying Oprah has a little bit of money.
The Gonzaga victory was ultra-impressive and clearly announced Carwin as a true contender, as he rallied from an early shot that stung him and caught the former title challenger with a straight right that left the Brazilian seeing stars.
Many feel Lesnar's chin has yet to be tested, something that will certainly happen should these two juggernauts go toe-to-toe as expected, giving the champion's detractors exactly what they've been seeking.
One piece of advice: Be careful what you wish for.
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