As most fighters approach their mid-thirties they begin to lose a step or two and may come to the realization that they don't have a lot of time left in their careers. It's extremely hard to deal with the fact that their bodies are breaking down and that they can no longer compete at a level that is necessary to be successful. Getting by just isn't good enough for a lot of these guys, they either maintain a high level of competitiveness or they hang em up.
There are instances where we see some fighters buck the trend and put Father Time on hold. Take a look at Randy Couture, he remained competitive until he was 48-years-old. Then there is Dan Henderson, who at 41-years-old is one week removed from what many consider one of the top MMA fights of all time. Another fighter looking to prove that age is just a number is former UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin.
At 36, soon to be 37-years-old the Greeley, Colorado native is coming off his second major surgery in a year. All of that doesn't matter to Carwin who feels as though he is in the best shape of his life and that these surgeries will actually allow him to compete at a higher level and more importantly give him an opportunity to play with his children once he decides to call it a career.
When you are dealing with someone as driven as Carwin, you have to take what he says to heart. He knows his body and what is capable of. He also understands that to continue fighting amongst the best heavyweights in the world he will have to train harder than ever. Carwin was gracious enough to answer a few questions from me just days after having surgery on his back.
Bryan Levick: How are you feeling just a few days removed from having surgery on your back?
Shane Carwin: I'm on the road to recovery, it's always tough going after having surgery. The operation was definitely a success, but the healing on this one is tough. I do not like taking any pain pills as they are actually making me feel worse than I did before I started taking them.
BL: Was there any one certain event or trauma that caused the damage to your back?
SC: It is really just sports in general, my doctor suspects that I may have first injured my back while playing football.
BL: What timeline were you given as far as training is concerned? How long will it be before you can lift weights, begin sparring and then begin getting back to your normal pre-fight routines and last, but not least when can we expect to see you back inside the Octagon?
SC: For the first six weeks I won't be able to lift anything more than 10lbs. I also won't be able to bend, lift or twist. Three months out, as long as I have the doctor's approval I can begin going through a full workout. I have a title to win so I'm not going to rush the recovery. As you can see with the Henderson fight, age is nothing but a number.
BL: Can we expect to see you at the same weight you were fighting at before you had the surgery?
SC: To be honest I will likely be at the same weight I was at when I fought Brock Lesnar at UFC 116. I went overboard on my diet and it took something away from me when I fought Junior Dos Santos.
BL: What are your thoughts on the Cain Velasquez-JDS fight?
SC: It's a battle of two heavyweights and anything can happen. I felt as though JDS would win, but I didn't think it would happen so quickly. Cain is young and talented. He works with a great team and alongside some fantastic coaches, he will be back.
BL: Do you feel that ring rust may have played a factor in Velasquez losing?
SC: It all happened so fast that it was too hard to tell. He never had a chance to implement his game plan because of how quickly it ended.
BL: Did you happen to hear Dana White's criticism of Velasquez's decision to keep the fight standing? If so, do you feel that White was being a bit to critical of the former champion?
SC: I was watching the fight in the bar and couldn't hear what Dana had to say. Unless you are the one standing in front of Junior in the Octagon you really shouldn't pass judgement.
BL: Did you enjoy the package that the UFC & Fox put together including the pre & post fight shows?
SC: Yes, it was a nice production and it's great to see the UFC getting more mainstream attention. It was a little bittersweet knowing that I had an opportunity to be part of that fight.
BL: Who do you see winning the Lesnar-Alistair Overeem bout? How do you feel either man stacks up against Dos Santos?
SC: The Lesnar-Overeem fight could go either way. I think it will come down to who imposes their will and implements their gameplan first. They both stack up pretty well against JDS, but so do most of the top 10 heavyweights - anything can and will happen when any of these guys meet up. I will go with Lesnar because of his elite ground game, but if he doesn't get the fight to the ground he will be in trouble.
BL: When you return to action will you look to get your feet wet against someone in the top 10 or will you be ready to jump right back in there with the sharks in the same manner you did when you fought Dos Santos?
SC: I will be ready to fight whomever the UFC puts in front of me.
BL: How much longer do you see yourself fighting?
SC: As long as I feel healthy and still love to fight like I do, I'll keep it going. I am as motivated and excited as I ever have been about my future in the heavyweight division.