Mutual Friend: Waterman Handicaps Carwin vs. Lesnar

By Jake Rossen Sep 6, 2009
Opinions on Nov. 21’s Brock Lesnar-Shane Carwin meeting -- more demolition derby than fight considering their combined five hundred-something pounds -- aren’t in short supply. But no observers have quite the same perspective as Ron Waterman, Carwin’s high school wrestling coach and Lesnar’s roommate during a developmental stint in a WWE training league.

Waterman, 16-6 as a pro and a massively-built collegiate wrestler in his own right, fights Bobby Lashley in November. He spoke with about choosing sides in a month that’s quickly turning into a Toho film. You coached Carwin as a high school wrestler. How much did he weigh at the time?

Waterman: Shane actually wound up wrestling at 171 pounds. But he was a big kid. He had to cut a lot of weight to get down there. You also got him into professional fighting. After training with you early on, he moved to another camp. Why did your paths diverge?

Waterman: He started training down in Denver quite a bit with Nate Marquardt and some of those guys. I was traveling, so I couldn’t train with him as much as he needed to get trained. Carwin hasn’t been outside of the first round, and there are questions concerning his wind late in the fight. What have you seen?

Waterman: I don’t think cardio will be a question with him. Everybody’s wondering because they haven’t seen him in the second or third round. He’s a wrestler, training up at altitude [in Colorado], training extremely hard. He prepares five rounds for a three-round fight. He’s definitely got the cardio to go hard for five rounds. You and Lesnar spent a good deal of time together in Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), which was a developmental league for the WWE, around 2000-2002. Did he ever discuss fighting with you then?

Waterman: I think he wanted to do it back then. We were both locked in to WWE contracts at the time. I had already fought in the UFC, and he said it was something he might want to do if wrestling didn’t work out, down the line.

Brock and I were pro wrestling, but we would train a lot, roll a lot, wrestle a lot, just to stay in shape. Shelton Benjamin, Brian Keck, other college wrestlers were there, too. We’d wrestle all the time. As big as he is, to be as strong and as quick as he is, it’s amazing. He was close to 300 pounds and could do a standing back-flip. He was one of the only guys I’ve trained with that could take me down at will. Did your backgrounds help avoid any hazing rituals in that wrestling culture?

Waterman: I had four UFC fights when I was called into OVW. The first day I was in practice, Mark Henry, all 450 pounds of him, got into ring and called me out. I think he lasted about 35 seconds. Who’s stronger: Lesnar or Carwin?

Waterman: I think Brock would have to have the edge on physical strength. He probably walks around a little bit heavier than Shane. But it’s not a huge difference. They’re both extremely strong. I might give athleticism to Brock’s side, but the technique to Shane a little more. He’s come along with his ground and stand-up. He’s got good submissions now. There’s also debate over Lesnar’s Division I honors and Carwin’s Division II. Do you see much of a difference?

Waterman: At the time, when Shane was wrestling, there was not a huge difference. Both were national champions. I think they had a few similar opponents. I had Brock in town with me here in Greeley and I took him to the gym to train with me one day and Shane was there: I introduced them. This was six or seven years ago. They met for the first time. They were talking back and forth about Stephen Neal and other common opponents they had wrestled against. They had real similar outcomes. If you had to bet on who gets the first takedown, where does the money go?

Waterman: [long silence] It’s really hard to say. If they come in to wrestle, Brock might get the first takedown. But if Shane plays his cards right and is looking to defend and keeping him away and setting it up with punching, I’d give it to Shane. It’s a chess match. It’s about who comes ready to play that day. You can approximate both guys fairly well. Are you going to train with either one?

Waterman: Shane is asking me to train with him for this fight, so I’ll be training with him for the next two months. I have a fight with Lashley in November, so it’s going to help me out as well. I think it’ll help Shane. Brock and I have very similar fighting styles. We take opponents down, ground-and-pound, don’t let them move, look for [a] submission. That’s basically what Brock’s done: control opponents. That’s my style. Having Shane train with me will be an advantage for him. Did anyone from Lesnar’s camp try to reach you?

Waterman: No, I haven’t heard anything from Brock’s side. Back to you and Lesnar in OVW: was it quiet, or did anyone ever want any trouble?

Waterman: It never happened. We just spent a lot of time together hanging out at the mall and going out to eat. No one had that much courage. There were a group of guys: Dave Batista, John Cena, Randy Orton, Mark Henry -- just a bunch of big freaks.
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