In just a couple of days time we’re going to witness a real-life clash of the titans when two of the biggest, most powerful fighters ever to step foot in the octagon battle for the UFC’s heavyweight title.
Below we break down the fighter’s attributes to see who may have the advantage on the night.
Physique / Athleticism
Clearly we’re looking at two quite literally larger than life fighters here. Both are expected to tip the scales at the 265lb heavyweight limit, though their natural weight is considerably higher. The latest reports from the fighters is that Carwin is walking around at 275lbs while Lesnar is at 270 as they approach the weigh-ins.
Height wise Shane Carwin is often billed as being around 6ft 4″ – 6ft 5″. In reality he says he’s actually 6ft 2″, though even that may be a little generous. Lesnar is 6ft 3″ so either way the difference is negligible.
Another exaggerated fact is Carwin’s hand size – at one time he was billed as requiring 5XL gloves, however he’s told fans that he in fact wears 4XL – the same as Lesnar. The two also share a similar reach, with Lesnar’s also an inch longer at 81″.
So in essence there’s not much of a difference between the two physically. If anything I’d give a slight edge to Lesnar who I suspect will prove to be a little stronger, and perhaps more significantly is renowned for being unusually fast for a man of his size. That could be an important factor.
The big unanswered question mark here though is how much of an impact Lesnar’s well documented troubles with diverticulitis will have? Until we see him fight it’s hard to say but he has had six months of training since being given the all-clear by doctors.
Neither man is the most technical striker you’ll ever see, but what they both possess is power in abundance. Lesnar of course infamously sent Heath Herring careering head over heels with practically his first punch when the fought, fracturing Herring’s orbital bone in the process, and he floored Randy Couture with a glancing blow. What he hasn’t managed to do yet though is show that’s got genuine knockout power though.
Carwin on the other hand can’t seem to stop knocking people out, and he does so in devastating fashion. Normally we’re used to seeing fighters fall backwards or forwards onto the mat after a KO, but when Carwin connects his opponents simply collapse into themselves like a controlled explosion, with their mouthpieces sent flying as an added bonus.
Defensively Carwin is a little rigid, lacking real fluid head movement and footwork which means he gets hit more often than he should. Lesnar hasn’t spent a great deal of time on his feet to give an accurate assessment but he can also be caught, and there are some signs he may freeze and revert to his wrestling when met with consistent pressure and combinations.
Overall I believe Shane Carwin’s natural one-punch power gives him the edge in this category.
As an additional note, Lesnar says he’s taken time to reconfigure his stance ahead of this bout and is now a southpaw. That’s a big undertaking, and appears to be something he believes will benefit him more from a wrestling standpoint than a striking one, so it’ll be interesting to see what impact that has on the fight.
The basic fact here is that Lesnar was a D1 champion while Carwin was a D2 champion. Of course there are incidences when D2 wrestlers beat D1 wrestlers, but bear in mind that at that highest level of competition Lesnar lost just five times in 111 matches over a four year period.
You also have to factor in that wrestling remains at the core of Lesnar’s game while Carwin is by his own admission now more focused on his striking prowess. He also trains daily with a camp that’s heavily geared towards the discipline with the likes of Cole Konrad and Chris Tuchscherer, and most recently Randy Couture as training partners.
For my money Lesnar definitely has the wrestling edge.
If the fight goes to the ground it’s likely both fighters will prefer to let their fists do the talking, but a submission isn’t totally out of the question.
There’s not been a whole lot of evidence of Brock Lesnar’s jiu-jitsu to date, but he does incorporate it into his training and after having prepared for the threat on the mat from the likes of Frank Mir and Randy Couture in his previous fights he is believed to have developed solid submission defense.
Shane Carwin perhaps has more of an affinity with BJJ as was evidenced earlier in his career when he picked up a few rear-naked and guillotine choke victories. He originally trained with fellow UFC fighter Nate Marquardt where he earned his purple belt, but he’s since swapped trainer and opted to restart from white belt.
I don’t see submissions being a factor in this fight, but if it does I think it’ll be Carwin on the offensive.
Both men have had their chins tested during their UFC career, and that has left some doubts. Couture appeared to have Lesnar in some difficulty after landing a solid blow or two in their bout, even though ‘The Natural’ is fairly small for a heavyweight and not a renowned power puncher. Lesnar also confirmed that Frank Mir had him seeing “tweety bird” after an exchange in their second fight.
Carwin meanwhile had his legs buckled from a punch delivered by Gabe Gonzaga, though he did well to quickly recover and go on to win the fight.
At this moment in time I question Lesnar’s chin a little more, but really when two enormous men like these guys step into the cage and let their fists fly, one solid connection could leave either one stretched out on the canvas.
Experience is an interesting one. At first glance it would seem that Carwin has the most experience given that he’s been in 12 fights as opposed to Lesnar’s five.
However, due to the fact that Carwin hasn’t yet been out of the first round in a fight it turns out that Lesnar has double the actual cage time (32 minutes to 16 minutes), and knows what it’s like to go the full three rounds as he did against Heath Herring.
In addition Lesnar has consistently fought tougher opposition – fighting Mir (twice), Couture and Herring in the UFC, while the only two notable fighter’s on Carwin’s resume are his last two victims, Gonzaga and Mir.
So overall I give a slight experience edge to Lesnar. Truth be toldthough, both fighters are still relatively inexperienced considering that this is a fight that’s being billed as deciding who’s going to be ranked as the No.1 heavyweight fighter in the world.
So there we have it. What makes this bout so intriguing is that they are fairly evenly match and there’s a solid case to be made for either man to emerge with their hand raised on Saturday night. As for who I think will win, I’m going to hold back on revealing my pick until I do my full set of predictions for UFC 116 tomorrow night so stayed tuned for that.