What's Next for Shane Carwin After the Brock Lesnar Loss at UFC 116?

Photo by Scott Peterson via MMA Weekly

Carwin talks to MMA Weekly about the Lesnar fight:

What happened to Carwin, as he found out after the fight, was a bout of lactic acidosis. That is when lactic acid builds up in the blood stream faster than it can be removed, and it's produced when oxygen levels in the body are reduced. Knowing that something was wrong when the first round ended, Carwin says it was when he was leaving after the fight that things actually got scary.

"The hard part was actually walking back to the locker room," he said. "I just felt like I was going to collapse. By the time I got back there they put me on my back, my blood pressure was out of control, my heart rate was extremely out of control, and it never came back down, and I basically started hyperventilating almost right there."

Carwin made the trip to the local hospital, where he was checked out and released. Now that the fight is over and before he plans on stepping back in the Octagon again, Carwin says he will be tested thoroughly by his doctors to prevent this from happening again. Changes in diet and training should help fix the issue.

Carwin's pretty emphatic in the interview that he doesn't blame anyone, especially Ref Josh Rosenthal, for his loss to Lesnar. 

Carwin's taken quite a bit of heat online for his comments after the fight and I think it's unfortunate (and yes, we've been extra hard on him here at BE) because he's just attempting to explain his experience as a fighter. As a fan I'd much rather have fighters who are willing to honestly discuss what happened to them in the Octagon in detail than an endless series of empty jock talk that gives no insight. Carwin's an unusually open fighter with fans and the press. Unfortunately he's also pretty sensitive to criticism. I hope that he doesn't internalize the B.S. that foolish yappers like me post on the blogs.

But more interesting than what has already transpired is what's next for Carwin. The obvious choice would be a bout against the loser of UFC 117's Roy Nelson vs Junior Dos Santos fight. Either would be a great opponent for Carwin.

Obviously, Carwin remains a threat to KO anything smaller than a bull elephant that steps into the cage with him. But either Nelson, a wily vet with a well rounded skill set and a deep gas tank, or Dos Santos, a very quick and technically precise boxer with KO power, present a very serious set of challenges to Shane. 

After everyone saw the Lesnar fight, I guarantee you Carwin's future opponents will be reluctant to engage him in the first round. Everyone he fights will be looking to drag him into deeper waters to see if he'll fade again in the later rounds. He'll have to walk a fine line between conserving his energy better and not becoming overly cautious and losing his killer instinct.

The other option for Carwin is a tune up fight. Unfortunately the heavyweight division remains fairly thin and there really isn't a robust crop of gatekeepers there. There is no heavyweight Jorge Rivera or Chris Lytle. The two established gatekeepers in the UFC HW class are Cheick Kongo and Gabriel Gonzaga. Carwin's already beaten Gonzaga and Kongo is expected to fight Travis Browne at UFC 120. Personally, I'd rather see Carwin vs Kongo than Kongo vs Browne or Carwin vs Nelson/Dos Santos.

Failing that, someone like Mike Russow could be a fine tune up fight for Carwin. Despite by oft-stated preference that promoters book the best fight possible, in the thin heavyweight division I think it's best to be careful with legitimate contenders, especially one as formidable as Carwin who's already shown he presents a huge threat to champion Brock Lesnar.

After Carwin's fearsome performance against Lesnar, everyone on Earth knows that he is a very very real threat to win the rematch. That means he needs to be tested and given a tune up fight or two and then one contender's match before getting another title shot. He's also at an age, 35, where his abilities could fade very quickly at any time. Therefore, there's no time to waste if we're going to get Lesnar vs Carwin 2.

Personally, I'll be rooting for Carwin to solve his conditioning problems and get back to the top ASAP.

I've watched UFC 116 several times since it took place and the title fight only gets more dramatic and compelling on each viewing. Carwin vs Lesnar reminds me of a smaller scale version of Foreman vs Ali -- the famed Rumble in the Jungle. I really do think Lesnar was rope-a-doping to some extent. I'm still not seeing Carwin landing a really clean shot before Lesnar fell and he only landed a couple of clean shots on the ground. 

But as much as we praise the Lesnars and Alis, we should also treasure athletes like Shane Carwin and the great George Foreman. An offensive machine like that is an opponent that every other contender dreads stepping into the cage with and a rare treat for fans. There might be other fighters with a better chance to beat Brock Lesnar, but there are none on the horizon who can physically intimidate him and batter him around the way Carwin did before he faded.

Here's hoping we get a second bite at the magic apple that is Lesnar vs Carwin.

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