File photo: Sherdog.com
Shane Carwin’s first-round knockout of Frank Mir at UFC 111 on Saturday in Newark., N.J. guaranteed the still-undefeated fighter a shot at UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, likely at UFC 116 this July in Las Vegas, said UFC President Dana White.
Carwin, who buckled Mir with a series of explosive uppercuts on the fence, earned the promotion’s interim heavyweight championship -- a title enacted by the UFC when it looked like Lesnar might be out of commission for an extended period of time from a severe intestinal infection.
Carwin and Lesnar were scheduled to meet at UFC 106 last November in Las Vegas. However, the 2000 NCAA Div. I wrestling champion’s condition worsened and Lesnar was hospitalized for 11 days and underwent surgery. The introduction of Mir into the interim title scenario jeopardized the 35-year-old’s re-assignment to Lesnar later.
“It’s been a long time coming and I speak to it as like destiny,” said Carwin at the UFC 111 post-fight conference. “Brock and I were both national champions around the same time in wrestling and we never got to meet in wrestling. You know, here we are 10 years later and we finally get to meet.”
White, who sat cageside with Lesnar, said the champion predicted the bout wouldn’t go past the two-minute mark. It went three-minutes and 48 seconds -- the longest fight of Carwin’s career, which is now 12-for-12 with first-round stoppages. White said Lesnar was rooting for Mir, as both fighters share a mutual disdain for one another.
“When Shane won (Lesnar) goes, ‘Oh well. I guess it’s Shane,’” said White. “(Lesnar’s) excited (to get back in the cage.) He’s a moody guy and ever since this thing happened to him, his disposition has been a lot better. He’s a lot more thankful and he’s happy to be back and competing again.”
A 1999 NCAA Div. II wrestling champion, Carwin said his mindset was to relax into the bout with Mir and “not rush things.”
“The plan was to get Frank against the fence and dirty box. I‘m kind of mean and aggressive there,” said Carwin. “We worked on that all camp, just getting him against the fence and beating him up and trying to take him into later rounds.”
It was a more elaborate approach than what fans have grown accustomed to from the heavy-handed wrestler. But once Carwin pinned the former champion against the fence, it took him relatively little time to find his opening for a salvo of unanswered shots. Mir’s knees gave out from underneath him in the burst.
“I felt more fluid in there,” agreed Carwin. “I think Frank was actually probably waiting for me to bullrush him like I’ve kind of done with my prior opponents. I don’t know if he was looking to longer rounds with that or not….I felt really strong against him, against the cage. I felt I had a lot of power and position there.”
Afterward, Lesnar and Carwin met center-cage. The 32-year-old Lesnar called the interim champion’s title “make-believe,” the first of many verbal jabs to come for Carwin in the coming months from the former WWE superstar.
At the post-fight conference, the even-keeled Carwin said he’d endured harsher verbal warfare on his football team at Western State College.
“I find the comments that Brock and Frank and those guys like that (say), I actually find them pretty comical and I laugh at them,” said Carwin. “I enjoy them as much as everyone else enjoys them.”