Shane Carwin on Growing Old in Mixed Martial Arts

3311937962_d773de6d7a_mediumThe heavyweight bruiser talks shelf life in MMA, and it appears his ideas on the matter probably influence his decision to keep a full time job as a municipal engineer. To wit:

For a bigger guy like you, is it harder to get yourself into the kind of cardiovascular shape you need to be in to fight for 15 minutes or, if you get a title shot, 25 minutes?
The older I get (34) it seems like it is. When I was wrestling in college it didn't seem to be such a difficult thing. But now five minute rounds are a long time.

You made your pro debut when you were 30. Do you wish you would have taken up MMA a little earlier?
Oh, I went through college and everything, and I finished that in 2004. It wasn't much longer before I got started fighting, so I wouldn't say I would change anything. Things have worked out pretty well. I think everyone has about 10 years of fighting anyway, because of the brutality of the sport, the physicality, getting hit in the head, your body taking punishment. So you can start at 21, but I think by the time you're 31, you'd be pretty weathered.

Watching Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira recently, he's only 32, but he looks like an old man, like all his fights are catching up to him.
Yeah, when you're sparring three times a week, and taking those kinds of shots competitively, everyone who fights, there's always something that's bothering you or nagging you. That's just the nature of the sport. I think that's why Randy Couture's been able to do it as long as he is, because he got a late start. I was just talking to one of my trainers about it. People really only have 10 or 15 years in this sport before they start showing the signs of age.

I am still quite confident we need to see the first two generations of MMA fighters grow their careers and pick up life afterwards to see what happens next. The MMA safety record is noteworthy, but there is no circumventating the enormous tax on the body. Let us hope that what we find out when the fighters retire is that their quality of life does not precipitously decline and their physical capabilities aren't compromised. But candidly, I fear some of us are clinging to wishful thinking about the long term repercussions of a career in MMA because the current body of evidence on MMA's safety record comes from too narrow a data pool to keep up with the changes in the sport. There is still much we don't know and one's concerns about how much this takes out of the body is not idle.

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