Is Shane Carwin all he's been made up to be?
Despite having had four fights inside the Octagon, the real Shane Carwin is still somewhat of an unknown quantity heading into his UFC title fight opposite Brock Lesnar.
Let me explain.
There are at least three ways in which Carwin has been presented that may be misleading.
To balance a natural heel like Lesnar, it seems like Carwin has been more than willing to try to adopt the role of the babyface, and the UFC has built him up as another figure larger than reality.
Inside the cage, Carwin has backed up his image by brutally knocking out all of his opponents in short order, but his actual skills and abilities must still be somewhat considered as question marks.
Carwin's first foray into babyface territory occurred after UFC 100, when Carwin posted a blog entry that was critical of Lesnar in an over-the-top fashion.
"The fans are why we do this Brock," Carwin wrote. "This sport is not about fat paychecks and drama it is about hard work and sacrifice for a shot to do what you did last night. It doesn't matter how much money you make if you can't earn your peers' respect and the respect and love of the greatest sporting fans in the world."
While many would agree with Carwin that Lesnar was disrespectful following his fight with Mir, Carwin's response seemed to me to be the kind of response designed to win over the favor of the masses, more than a natural response.
On the other hand, Carwin has become somewhat of a prolific blogger on his website, so the fact that he's made over-the-top remarks may just have to do with a natural inclination toward over-expression.
In any case, despite the fact many words have been spoken and written by the man, I feel as if we still don't have a great idea of what he's really like, and what he really represents.
Even his physical proportions can't be gauged as accurate.
Carwin has ridiculously been billed by the UFC as being 6'5" and is frequently cited as having the largest hands in the UFC.
While it's possible that Carwin has the largest hands, there is no possible way he's 6'5". In reality, he's probably three inches shorter.
Of course, if his physical dimensions are questionable, he's left little doubt in the Octagon as to his abilities, having scored four knockouts in the first round.
Yet still, I feel as if judging him by those performances may be misleading.
Christian Wellisch and Neil Wain weren't good enough to really stick around in the UFC, and as good as Gonzaga and Mir are, both are known for not being very durable.
Because of that, I think the fact that he's finished all of his opponents in the first round has been a bit overstated.
Additionally, he's only fought a total of eight minutes in the Octagon, which is less than the amount of time Lesnar needed to finish Randy Couture. We still haven't seen what happens to Carwin when he's pushed for a long period of time.
The list of things we actually know about Carwin is relatively short.
He's a career engineer who somehow manages to squeeze in a successful UFC title run in his spare time.
He's big, strong, athletic, and was once an NCAA Division II champion in wrestling.
Aside from that, the real Shane Carwin remains to be seen.
We should know a lot more when he finally fights Brock Lesnar on July 3.