The sport of mixed martial arts will crown its next top-ranked heavyweight on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. There, UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar will square off with undefeated interim titleholder Shane Carwin in an anticipated unification bout at UFC 116 “Lesnar vs. Carwin.”
Sherdog.com caught up with dozens of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the battle between these two behemoths:
Nick Thompson: As I do every summer, I left a graduate-level algebraic graph theory math problem on the board as a challenged posed to my students. I had hoped one of them could solve it by the end of the semester. To my amazement, it was anonymously solved within the first week. In its place, I posted a much more difficult problem, one that took me and my colleagues two years to prove. Then I see this janitor writing over my problem and chase him away only to realize, upon closer inspection of the janitor’s writing, that the janitor had solved this difficult proof. I finally tracked down the janitor and found out his name was Derrick Noble. By the time I found out who he was, he was in a bit of a jam. He was on trial for attacking a police officer. Because of Derrick’s unparalleled promise, I spoke to the judge on Derrick’s behalf. The judge offered him prison or to be released to my supervision to study mathematics and see a therapist. Derrick chose the latter. Derrick treated the first five therapists with utter contempt. In desperation, I finally called on Sean, my old roommate, now an estranged old friend, who is a therapist and happens to think Carwin will win, just like Noble. My fields medal leads me to believe Lesnar will be the champ, but Derrick and Sean both have more natural talent than me, of which I am jealous, and they think Carwin.
Chris Weidman: Lesnar wins. He wins by ground-and-pound stoppage in the first round. He shows the world how much of a beast he really is.
Eddy Millis: I think that Brock wins this fight. Carwin has to catch him with some good, solid shots early on. If not, Brock takes Carwin down and controls the fight. Brock in the second round by punishment on the ground.
Tito Ortiz: I think it’s probably one of the biggest fights of the year at heavyweight. Brock Lesnar -- I’m a big fan, huge fan. I’m going back to my old wrestling days, of course, [with] him being a collegiate wrestler. I’ve always been a huge fan, but Shane Carwin has the skills to become the next heavyweight champ. I kind of look at the paper, black or white and who’s going to win or not. I think Carwin’s going to pull it off, but I hope Brock is going to make it happen and continue being the champ. I have a liking for Brock. I see a lot of myself in him, and I think he’s good for the sport. But, yeah, I do [think Carwin will win]. I just think his stand-up skills are a little better than Brock’s. He’s got a lot more experience, having 12 fights, big fights, and you saw how fast he dismantled Frank Mir. I just think if Shane Carwin can defend the takedown, he should win the fight. But if he can’t defend the takedown, then he’s going to be in trouble.
Matt Pena: I’ve been really impressed with Carwin, but his only chance to win this is to KO Lesnar. That sounds great in theory, but I just don’t think it will be that simple. Having trained Brock for a very brief time at [Miletich Fighting Systems] when he decided to start fighting, I know firsthand how strong Brock is and how far he has come in a short time. I really think it’s gonna come down to Carwin’s ability to stop the takedown. This is such a difficult fight to call, but I’m gonna have to take the safe route here when the only chance to win is a puncher’s chance.
Doug Marshall: Well, that’s hard to call; they’re both beasts. I think we might see the Octagon break (laughs). They both hit hard, and both [are] good wrestlers. I think if Carwin gets him to the ground and slaps on a camel clutch, it’s over. On the other hand, if Brock can get to the top and Jimmy “Superflys” him, he might squish Carwin. Final analysis is … pandemonium.
Travis Wiuff: I think Brock wins this fight fairly easily. I see him being very dominant. Brock will get the takedown and ground-and-pound out a win in the late second or third round. The toughest fight Brock will ever have is in the practice room against Cole Konrad.
Dan Hardy: I think Lesnar is going to take Carwin down in the first and try to Donkey Kong him. Carwin will weather an early storm and KO Lesnar with one of his six-inch punches in the second, just like the punch that dropped [Gabriel] Gonzaga.
Seth Petruzelli: Please, Shane, smash that overgrown non-veggie eating poop stick.
Ryan Schultz: That is going to be a brawl. Two big athletic boys. I want to say Lesnar based on his wrestling, but I pick Carwin by KO. I hope the cage can handle the size and power of these two.
Josh Thomson: Brock by ground-and-pound TKO. I think his wrestling is [on] a whole different level than Carwin’s, but Carwin has a puncher’s chance on the feet.
Shawn Tompkins: I am rooting for Shane Carwin in this fight. I have been a fan of his since his fights in Ring of Fire. On the feet, I think he is far superior and a much more natural striker. Only problem I see for him is Brock’s superhuman strength. If he ends up on top of Shane, I think he will look for a wrestler’s decision. This is literally a fight where two worlds are gonna collide.
Scott Lighty: Takedowns for a dollar (copyright). Carwin is coming to collect.
Jeff Monson: Lesnar by decision.
Jason Lambert: Carwin by KO.
Yves Edwards: I kind of have to go with Carwin in this one. I do think Brock will take him down but don’t know if he can finish or keep him there. Also, Carwin has the better standing game, and Brock didn’t look like he likes getting hit.
Travis Lutter: I think Shane is going to get this one. I think he is the harder hitting of the two. [It will] be fun to watch two massive heavyweights trying to hurt each other.
Jason Von Flue: I’m thinking Carwin is going to beat the poop out of Lesnar in this one. Carwin has the size and power to offset Lesnar’s raw size and wrestling and his lack of skill in striking. Carwin in round two by KO or TKO. The only thing that could make this better would be Cain Velasquez running in and turning this into a three-way death match. Oh, I shouldn’t say that; we might end up seeing that happen on Monday Night “Raw.” I really could imagine the WWE doing a parody of that.
Tom Vaughn: Shane Carwin is absolutely one of the nicest people I've met on the circuit. I used to wonder if Shane had it in him to really put a beatdown on someone, but his last few fights cleared up that question (laughs). Brock Lesnar is entertaining to watch and knows how to sell it. Even though he reminds me of that guy on the football team hanging people on the flagpole by their underwear, I like his attitude as a fighter. The difference here is depth in the MMA game, and I believe Carwin has it. This fight goes two, maybe three rounds max. Anything longer than that and people are going to find out the ugly truth about 265-pound fighters. If one of these guys wins by triangle, I’m gonna crap myself. My prediction is Shane Carwin by TKO and the UFC needing some new fence panels afterwards.
Roland Sarria: Lesnar will start fast trying to control the fight on the top position on the ground. Carwin will stuff the takedowns and counter with punches to the head. Lesnar will have no answer to Carwin’s onslaughts and combinations of punches to the head, and it will end in the first round.