Heading into UFC 131, the late replacement of Brock Lesnar by Shane Carwin has turned a lot of heads. While late replacements are usually disappointing, many seem to believe that Carwin actually makes for a better fight with Junior Dos Santos.
Both are known for their vicious knockouts and between the two of them, they have a combined 22 first round finishes.
Still, Dos Santos, for several reasons, will finish Shane Carwin at UFC 131 and get a shot at Cain Velasquez in the process.
Junior Dos Santos has essentially lit up every single opponent that he's faced. Ever since "Cigano" stormed into the UFC with a vicious knockout of Fabricio Werdum, he has not slowed down.
Particularly for a heavyweight, his hands are scary fast.
He has finished every single one of his opponents with the exception of Roy Nelson. He took out Gabriel Gonzaga, Gilbert Yvel, Stefan Struve, and Fabricio Werdum via KO or TKO all in the first round. Dos Santos spent nearly three rounds beating up on Mirko Cro Cop until he couldn't see anymore.
Simply, this man has the most devastating boxing in the division and not a single individual has been able to stand and trade with him.
While some criticize Junior for his lack of kicks, it actually works in his favor heading into this fight, as it makes him less susceptible to takedowns.
Heading into UFC 131, Shane Carwin will only have fought twice in the last two years. Although there is much discussion of his new diet and physique, inactivity in addition to surgery is rarely a good combination for a professional fighter.
Sure, he went to town on Brock Lesnar's face in his last fight. That may have been the reason why he could barely stand going into the second round, but he showed that in the only fight that has lasted more than 3:48 in his career, that he can't last long.
Carwin has made a habit of knocking people out in the first round—something that hardly anyone would criticize. However, it has always left that huge question mark about his gas tank; fueling 265 pounds is a difficult task.
Shane Carwin does punch harder than just about anybody. But in 13 fights, Junior Dos Santos is 12-1, with his only loss coming nearly four years ago via armbar. Not only has Dos Santos never been knocked out or TKO'd, he's never even been rocked or knocked down in any of his fights in the UFC.
For the amount of time he spends on the feet, that's pretty impressive.
Yes, that's a picture of Randy Couture and no, Shane Carwin is not 47.
Despite Junior Dos Santos being such a huge force at heavyweight, he is a mere 26 years old. In every fight, he is moving closer to his physical prime. He is improving in every fight.
Shane Carwin, on the other hand, is 36 and dealing with a body that is clearly showing signs of wear and tear. Again, he is coming off of surgery to his neck and back. In addition, Carwin has shown significantly increased body fat since he began fighting, which could contribute to his lacking stamina.
Junior Dos Santos trains with one of the greatest camps in the MMA world—Black House. Although Carwin is a Greg Jackson fighter and has a great camp himself, it lacks an emphasis on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Shane Carwin showed a clear lack of ground skills when Brock Lesnar got on top of him. He was tapping almost immediately.
While Dos Santos hasn't displayed his ground game in the Octagon, training under Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Anderson Silva means that you have to know what you're doing off of your back.
"Cigano's" newly misshapen ear is also a testament to his focus on grappling. Black House has also added Mark Muñoz to supplement their wrestling.
Shane Carwin was the Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion after destroying Frank Mir. He had his title shot against Brock Lesnar soon afterwards, but he stumbled. He was submitted by a fighter who was subsequently TKO'd in his next fight.
Carwin has little momentum going into this fight.
Meanwhile, Junior Dos Santos is riding a seven fight win streak in which he has looked unstoppable. He's knocking people out left and right.
He's getting media attention from his stink on The Ultimate Fighter. The Dos Santos hype is high and will help carry him to victory on June 11.