On Saturday, July 3, one of the biggest fights in UFC history will go down when two of the biggest heavyweights, Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar, square off inside the UFC Octagon to unify the titles. This fight is a source rich enough for years of analysis. Unfortunately, we don't have that kind of time, so this will have to do.
Who will prevail? The heavy handed Shane Carwin, or All-American wrestler Brock Lesnar?
Well, if it's true that styles make fights, then this fight will turn into a classic striker vs. grappler match. In that case, the big question is "Will Brock Lesnar Use a GSP Gameplan against Shane Carwin?”
To answer that question, there are a few other others that need to be answered.
Has Brock Lesnar ever shown any fear when engaging with anyone?
Looking at Brock Lesnar's four UFC fights, we can see that he only takes it to the ground when the opportunity presents itself, or in other words, when Lesnar's power overwhelms his opponent. For example, look at his fight with Heath Herring.
For part of the first round, Lesnar actually elected to stand and trade with Heath Herring. Instead of taking the fight to the ground right away, Lesnar waited until he had knocked Heath Herring down with a vicious straight right to the eye, and then he proceeded to jump into Herring's guard.
However, Shane Carwin is an entirely different beast than Randy Couture, Frank Mir, or Heath Herring. The majority of his fights have ended by way of KO, and none of them have made it past the 3:48 mark of the first round. With insane KO power in his hands, he will force Lesnar to think twice about trading with him.
If Carwin can really succeed at that, it should leave Lesnar with no choice but to remember his wrestling roots. In order for his sudden remembrance to be successful, it comes down to one thing.
Can Shane Carwin defend takedowns?
Judging by Carwin's background in amateur wrestling—Division 2 National Champ in 1999, and runner up in 1996 and 1997. We can rest assured that Carwin knows how to grapple.
In his UFC tenure, however, we have only seen him grapple with Neil Wain and Gabriel Gonzaga. Of the two, Gonzaga was the only one to have taken Carwin down.
That fact in itself could bode ill for Carwin, but even his surrendered takedown can be disputed by the straight punches to the face he suffered only moments before. Carwin's only saving grace was his ability to get right back to his feet, which leads us to the next question.
If Brock Lesnar takes Shane Carwin down, can he keep him down?
When Brock Lesnar enters the Octagon on Saturday, he will do so at the weight of about 285 lbs. Shane Carwin will fight at around the same weight. We have to assume that if this fight even went to the ground, then Lesnar would have the advantageous position.
Shane Carwin, for all of his other talents, holds a purple belt in BJJ under Nate Marquardt. While that may not seem relevant when you put him up against a man of Lesnar's size, look back to his fight with Gabriel Gonzaga. Gonzaga, who weighs in at around 259 lbs. come fight time, had a dominant position against Shane Carwin.
Despite being rocked, and with a very heavy opponent on top of him, Carwin managed to clear his head and get back to his feet, where he delivered the fight-ending punch moments later.
Brock Lesnar is actually one of the better MMA fighters at keeping his opponent on the canvas. In his fight with Frank Mir, once Lesnar got the fight to the ground, it stayed there. The result of the fight was a KO in round two, with Lesnar raining down punches from the half guard.
So now, we're led back to our original question: Will Brock Lesnar Use a GSP Gameplan Against Shane Carwin?
If I was held at gunpoint and asked this question, then I would have to say yes. If Shane Carwin can be taken down by an out of shape Brazilian in Gabriel Gonzaga, then I think it's a given that Brock Lesnar can, and will, take him down. If Shane Carwin can get up from the bad positions and force Lesnar to exchange with him, then the fight may turn in his favor.
If you want to see how this fight will turn out, then tune in to UFC 116 on July 3.