With UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin officially announced, the buzz is already starting and as usual, people are blinded by hate and hype. No doubt, both men are worthy of the aura they now have around them. Brock, the outspoken champion you love to hate, and Carwin, the heavyweight wrecking machine. The stage is set for one of the biggest heavyweight showdowns to ever take place in the sport of MMA, and arguably, the biggest to ever take place in the UFC. Avoiding bias while analyzing fights isn't always the easiest task to accomplish, but bear with me as we look at these two men heading into their heavyweight title unification bout.
Dominant. This is the word that comes to mind when I think of Brock Lesnar. The way he controls opponents with his wrestling and positioning on the ground is something to be marveled at. Here is what we know about the reigning champion:
The biggest and most effective wrestler at heavyweight.
Lesnar is a Division I wrestling champion, and is capable of putting any fighter on their back in a blink of an eye. He's the perfect storm of technique and power, while his technique isn't always pretty, his strength allows him to get away with it. He's displayed this in each of his fights to date, and I don't expect him to stop any time soon. Actually, ever.
High quality ground control.
At UFC 100, Lesnar bent up Frank Mir like a pretzel, leaving him vulnerable for some painful ground and pound. It took one minute and thirty seconds into the first round for Brock to get Mir's back to the mat, and disable his hips. About thirty seconds after that, he had Mir's left arm trapped behind his head, landing shots at will. You let Brock Lesnar get a hold of your wrists or forearm, you are in for a heck of a fight to get it back. The fact that Lesnar can do this to a high quality BJJ artist like Frank Mir speaks volumes.
Ability to generate power, up close, and at a distance.
Whether it be skill, strength, or size, there is no doubt that Lesnar needs about a foot of distance between his fist and your face to make you hurt. Shots that would just amount to "scoring points" for other men, are legitimate pain inflicting blows for Brock. But, don't forget that Lesnar is very capable at breaking your face from a distance. Heath Herring's broken orbital bone shall forever serve as a reminder of what happens if Brock can land a right straight.
If Brock's one word description was dominant, Shane Carwin's word is devastating. The man rivals Lesnar in size, and is a Division II wrestling champ. Not quite the credentials, but what matters in Carwin's case, is that he can use his wrestling in reverse, to stay on his feet and unload his vicious power as often as possible. Here's what the Interim Champion brings to the table:
Knock. Out. Power.
I will openly say, here and now, that if any fighter on the planet lets Shane Carwin hit them cleanly...they're going to sleep. If you're not sawing logs by the first punch, you're too disoriented to defend yourself intelligently, and going to get hurt.
Size, and functional wrestling.
Like Brock, Shane is a huge wrestler. As I said before, he utilizes it differently than the champion because he's knocking out people left and right, and has had no need to use offensive wrestling in past match ups. We haven't seen what his takedowns look like, but I'm very sure that he'll be capable of putting the majority of UFC heavyweights on their back if he sees fit.
This is somewhat of a shiny new toy for Carwin, as he decimated Frank Mir with nasty uppercuts against the cage before finishing him in their Interim Title match at UFC 111. He did to Frank Mir vertically what Brock Lesnar did to Mir horizontally, getting in tight, and generating massive power in a short distance.
Before getting hypothetical about whats going to take place in the cage on July 3rd, there are a few things to take into account come fight night:
-Brock is coming of his illness and hasn't fought since July 11th, 2009.
-We've yet to see Brock hurt in the octagon, and don't know what it takes to rock him.
-Carwin has never been out of the first round.
-We haven't seen Carwin on his back.
So with all things taken into account, what we're left with is this. Two of the sports biggest men meeting in what will surely be a highly anticipated match. The keys to victory are obvious for both men.
Brock will need to avoid Carwin's power and get the takedown early and often. With control like Brock, I think we'll see him try to keep Carwin in the center of the octagon and be sure to not let Carwin use the cage to stand back up. Although Brock will be a little rusty, what he needs to do is what he's been doing for years and years, wrestle. So before we expect Brock to look like ring rust has got to him, keep in mind how he looked in his second professional fight against Frank Mir. The takedown is second nature to Lesnar, and is exactly what he needs to win this fight.
Shane needs to keep his distance, get well acquainted with the jab, and frustrate Lesnar until the Champion gets anxious. Thats when he'll aim to fire the right straight down the pipe. After the first round, I'd expect to see dirty boxing come into play, as Couture had some success in the clinch with Brock. Although, let me make it very clear. The idea that because Randy barely roughed Lesnar up in the clinch doesn't mean Carwin will be able to, as Lesnar will know full well that Carwin hits infinitely harder than Randy ever has.
It's either man's fight in my opinion, and I believe that you could match these guys up repeatedly and it'll always be a coin toss. Carwin having so little fight time leaves more variables than I'm comfortable with, but after this fight, we'll hopefully be getting some questions answered about both men. When the belts are unified, the busy heavyweight division will get a little more structure to it, and there will be another hungry challenger waiting for their chance at glory.