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The UFC 116 Hype Begins: Building Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin, Plus Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos

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<a href="http://www.watchkalibrun.com" target="new">Watch Kalib Run</a> calls them "The Four Horsemen of the UFC"
Watch Kalib Run calls them "The Four Horsemen of the UFC"

Everyone's taking the obvious size angle on building buzz for the headliner of UFC 116: Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin. The UFC expects 116 to be its biggest event of the year, but has to be looking in the rear-view mirror at last July's epic UFC 100 card. Lesnar vs Mir 2 headlined that card and you know a big part of Dana White and the Fertittas was hopefully pencilling Lesnar vs Mir 3 for 116. 

But, alas, instead of reaping a windfall from the time and money they've invested in promoting Frank Mir over the years, they have to do the hard work of building a fairly unknown Shane Carwin. But our boy Dana is nothing if not plucky and Mir is in the rear view mirror as they get the spin out to the press.

Steve Cofield documents the atrocities:

Sure the prefight talk for a Brock Lesnar-Frank Mir fight would've been off the charts but with Shane Carwin's victory at UFC 111 we're looking at a megafight during the summer with two of the biggest MMA heavyweights in the world. Lesnar is massive at 6-feet-4, 290 pounds and Carwin is right there with him at 6-2, 300. They'll both cut to 265 but on fight night in early July it'll be like two rhinos banging heads.

Once Mir was finished, Lesnar entered the cage early Sunday morning to lay down some smack on the fans and Carwin.

"I was debating whether I was going to bring him in there tonight," said Dana White, who wanted to make sure Carwin was cool with it. "Those two start going at it, there wasn't enough people in there to break that thing up."

White then posed the question about who the heck is going to be in there with upward of 580 pounds of beef.

"They're going to have to have like the [expletive] Hulk referee that fight. We might need two refs," joked White.

White is hoping the card can eclipse the one million mark for pay-per-view buys. Lesnar is the key.

Mike Chiappetta spreads the virus:

When (Carwin) and Lesnar meet this summer, likely on July 3 in Las Vegas, it will be -- quite literally -- huge. In fact, the biggest title matchup ever, at least in terms of bulk. And the interest level for the fight might just match the oversized participants.

Shockingly, Carwin-Mir marked the first time in major MMA history that a heavyweight championship match included two men who weighed in at the 265-pound limit. It had never happened in PRIDE; it had never happened in the UFC. The second time is on the way. But Lesnar is naturally much larger than Mir, who has weighed in the 245-255 neighborhood for most of his career and had bulked up in hopes of a rubber match with Lesnar.

Instead he was beaten by the monstrous Carwin, and now, he and Lesnar will usher in the new age of superheavyweights.

"The new age of superheavyweights" -- I like that, has a nice ring to it, well done Mr. Chiapetta.

Kevin Iole on the other hand is working more of the "Shane Carwin, part-time fighter, full-time engineer" angle:

Carwin still holds down a full-time job as an engineer and is a married father of a newborn daughter. That's plenty to make the average man weary at the end of a lengthy day. When other men are calling it a day, however, is when Carwin is just beginning.

On Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 111 at the Prudential Center, he showed he's pretty good at his side job, too.

He also got this quote from Lesnar:

"I kind of figured Shane was going to win, though I know anything can happen in this sport," Lesnar said. "I was kind of laying back and I didn't want to count any chickens before they hatched. Shane's a tough guy and I just know that Frank's time is done. This is the new evolution of the heavyweight division. Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, we're the guys in this division."

This is very shrewd heat building on the part of Lesnar. By spending words on Cain and Junior as he builds his fight with Shane, he's effectively investing in future fights while hyping his upcoming bout. It will be very interesting if he continues to hype up Velasquez and Dos Santos during the Carwin build. It's a reinforcement of Dana's stated intention to give both fighters separate title shots, although Dos Santos will have to win an extra fight while he waits. 

Does it also indicate that Lesnar is looking past Carwin just a little bit?

Zak Woods comments on the emergence of a new top tier in the UFC's biggest class:

The UFC heavyweight division while never deeper is slowly contracting to smaller nucleus. Randy Couture yielded late last year and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira bowed out in Australia at UFC 110. At UFC 111 Frank Mir was the latest heavyweight to exit stage "punched in the face" from title contention. 

If there was any doubt before it is now completely gone: Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos are the four best heavyweights in the UFC. 

...

For fans clamoring for a Velasquez-dos Santos fight that match-up was never a realistic possibility as the fine folks at Zuffa know that their heavyweight division is now all about the big four (WKR really wants to call them the Four Horsemen--WOOOO!!!!). In that vein, Dana White confirmed that Cain Velasquez will get the winner of Lesnar-Carwin and if Roy Nelson is triumphant at Fight Night 21 then Junior dos Santos will fight "Big Country" (WKR believes that Cheick Kongo may be an alternative if Nelson loses to Stefan Struve).

Will UFC 111 go down as the page turn for the UFC's heavyweight division? Perhaps, but WKR believes that process began over a year ago. Instead, UFC 111 may be seen as the realization that the top tier of the heavyweight division is the "Four Horsemen".

Personally I'm thrilled and I really hope that regardless of the outcomes of the various fights that we will get to see a round-robin between the four of them before it's all said and done with. Some of my favorite UFC memories in recent years involved the Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture vs Tito Ortiz vs Vitor Belfort battles in which we pretty much established a clear pecking order amongst the UFC's top 205lber's of the time. I'd love to see every possible permutation of Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin vs Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos.

And that's why, although I understand the inexorable money hungry carney logic of holding Velasquez back and feeding Nelson or Struve to Dos Santos, I disagree with that decision. There are too many variables in the fight game to plan that far ahead. When it comes to top contenders at the top of their games, this should be the promoter's guiding axiom: "Book the best fight you can every time."

For one thing, it's not good for a racehorse like Cain Velasquez to be stabled for the rest of the year waiting for Lesnar. This is a young athlete at the peak of his abilities, it's near criminal to waste most of a year. He'll turn from 27 to 28 while he waits and that's a big deal considering his peak could end in as little as four years, pending injuries and happenstance.

Meanwhile, Dos Santos could lose in a lame fight with Roy Nelson, and while it would be enormous fun to see Nelson grapple his way into an opportunity to be brutally beaten by the winner of Lesnar/Carwin vs Velasquez, I'd rather not. There are innumerable ways that Dos Santos could be rendered unavailable when the call up comes.

When it comes to fights as epic as a Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos 2010, a promoter has karma to pay to the fight gods when he chooses NOT to make it happen.

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