In just a few short days two of the biggest, most powerful men in MMA will finally meet to unify the illustrious UFC heavyweight championship.
The road leading to this epic battle of behemoths has been long and arduous but on Saturday, July 3, fight fans all over the world will have the opportunity to witness the dawn of a new era in MMA when Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin finally lock horns.
With the great Fedor Emelianenko falling this past weekend this bout just became a whole lot more exciting, because not only will Lesnar and Carwin be looking to become the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion, but the winner of this bout will undoubtedly be recognized as the best heavyweight in the world.
Having only five career fights under his belt, it is obvious when you watch Brock Lesnar that the striking game is a work in process for him. It's easy to assume that he has made improvement since the last time he was in the Octagon, but until we see the development in action it remains a major question mark.
Carwin, on the other hand, may not be the most technical striker the sport has to offer, but his striking has been proven to be effective, and he has some very real power.
If Carwin is able to keep the fight on feet, it would not be surprising at all to see him put Lesnar to sleep.
Having a purple belt in BJJ under Nate Marquardt and a handful of submission victories on his record, Shane Carwin should be viewed as the fighter who is the most capable of ending this fight via submission.
Just as with his striking, it is difficult to accurately gauge Lesnar’s proficiency in the submission department. We know that he is an extremely talented grappler with his wrestling pedigree but his submission game remains a mystery.
Carwin and Lesnar both have very impressive amateur wrestling credentials but it is pretty clear who should have the advantage come July 3.
Carwin was a NCAA Division II national finalist three times during his collegiate career, finally capturing the title as a senior at Western State in 1999.
While those are some great accomplishments they pale in comparison to what Lesnar was able to achieve.
During his four year career, Lesnar was a two-time NJCAA All-American, the 1998 NJCAA National champion, a two-time Big Ten Conference Champion, a two-time NCAA Division I All-American, the 1999 NCAA Division I National Runner-up, and in 2000 Lesnar captured the coveted NCAA Division I National Title.
It's obvious that both Lesnar and Carwin are extremely powerful individuals, so it's going to come down to which fighter has more functional strength come fight night. Whoever can gain an advantage in leverage will be in great shape to have their hand raised at the end of the night.
Carwin may be the only fighter in the UFC who can match the raw power that Lesnar brings to the cage and it will be interesting to see what Lesnar does when he can't just bull his opponent over.
Carwin is an impressive athlete and aside from his accomplishments on the wrestling mat, he was a two-time NCAA Division II All-American in football, but he lacks fluidity.
Carwin has plenty of power, but his movement can be a bit slow and lumbering, and that could lead to some problems for him in this matchup.
Lesnar is every bit as large and powerful as Carwin, but he moves with the speed and agility of a welterweight. Lesnar is very fluid with his movement, and that allows him to generate a great deal of power behind everything that he does.
Lesnar: It’s been nearly a year since Lesnar has stepped inside the Octagon and cage rust could prove to be a deciding factor in the outcome of this fight. Even though Lesnar is a freak athlete, a layoff of that length is going to have some kind of effect on his performance.
Carwin: Even though Carwin is a veteran of 12 professional fights, he has never been out of the first round. While that accomplishment is a testament to his devastating power, it makes the extent of his cardio a major unknown.
This is simply a type of matchup that fight fans absolutely love—the unstoppable force meets the immovable object.
From an overall skillset point of view, Carwin is coming into this fight with more tools and a proven ability to finish fights, but his cardio is a major concern, and even though he has a strong wrestling base, Gonzaga was able to take him to the mat with relative ease.
As we have seen in the past, it's not necessarily who has more tools but rather who has the ability to dictate where the fight takes place, and Lesnar has that ability.
His combination of power, explosiveness, athleticism, and wrestling ability will prove to be the difference in this fight.
Carwin is going to have a difficult time stopping Lesnar's takedowns, and once on top, Lesnar is a master at body control and pressure.
Prediction: Lesnar via second round TKO (ground and pound)