Carwin was scheduled to face fellow prospect Cain Velasquez at UFC 104. But when Lesnar returned earlier than expected from a surgery and asked the UFC to give him an opponent before the year of the year, the UFC decided to pull Carwin from UFC 104 and give him the shot of a lifetime: a chance at the heavyweight championship.
UFC sources confirm that Carwin's post-UFC 100 comments were the deciding factor in giving him the title shot.
"He talked his way into the title shot," said one source.
That and the fact that they were desperate for an opponent for Brock Lesnar. Had Randy Couture beaten Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102, I guarantee you that Shane Carwin would not have been rushed into a title shot.
Couture vs Lesnar 2 would have been a huge money match, Nogueira vs Lesnar, not so much. Especially since fans remember the beating that Frank Mir put on Nogueira not long ago. Nogueira is also unattractive because he presents a very real threat to submit Lesnar. And then there's the ugly fact that Nogueira has walked into the ring against Fedor three times and never emerged with a win. Nogueira will likely get his shot at Lesnar eventually, but he needs at least one more win against top competition to convince the UFC brass he's worth the risk.
Sure Carwin is a legit threat as well, but he's more attractive than Nogueira for a number of reasons. For one thing, he's a scary monster just like Brock. He's almost as big as Lesnar, making the sale to the n00bs that much easier. For another, he's undefeated and on a hot streak. He's been KTFO'ing fools right and left. There's no worry if Shane Carwin is UFC champ that Fedor fans will be able to dismiss him with a "been there, done that".
Regardless, props to Carwin for having the savvy and moxie to talk his way into a heavyweight title fight with the most popular athlete in the sport. There is a lot more to this game than just athletics and strategy. A top fighter has to be a top promoter as well.
It's a tradition as old as combat sports. See Ali, Muhammad.