During the ‘Camp Carwin’ video series prior to Saturday night’s heavyweight showdown between Shane Carwin and Junior Dos Santos, the fighter’s coach Trevor Wittman described the gut feeling he had early on in their time together that he had found a future champion in the hard-hitting wrestler.
Unfortunately Carwin once again fell short of achieving that dream after coming off second-best to the Brazilian in the Octagon, but Wittman still found plenty to admire about his charge’s gutsy performance.
“I’ve been in this business a long time and I’ve worked many corners in boxing and many corners in MMA,” Wittman told MMAMania. “… Last night, he inspired me so much as a trainer. To be involved in the first round war where I thought the fight was almost gonna be stopped and could have been stopped because of the punishment he was taking on the ground and then he comes into the corner and he looked like a beat fighter…
“He looked mentally beat. He looked physically beat. He had already started getting cuts. I didn’t tell him any instruction on how to beat dos Santos at that point. All I did was psychologically try to get him back into the fight. Nothing was working until I mentioned his family and when I told him to put his family in his mind and ‘go out there and do this for your family’, the whole energy in his body changed, his posture changed, the look in his eye changed.
“To me, that was like watching a Rocky Balboa movie. Movies are made about stuff like that. As a trainer, I felt we won. We didn’t win the fight but we won as a person and as a team. He did not get beat mentally. He went out there like a warrior. it’s hard to explain but it’s very inspiring as a trainer and I’m still in awe and still amazed at the way he looked in the hospital afterwards.
“The way he went out there and said “screw it” and put on a fight for the fans and there was no quit in him at all. Even when he had that nasty cut in the third round, I thought the fight should have been stopped at that point. That was a very bad cut and he still asked to go on longer. The crowd really got into that. It was probably the most exciting corner I’ve ever been in and it was an experience I’ve never experienced before and I’m still feeling it.”
Wittman is right to credit Carwin for the courage he showed to keep fighting – post-fight it was confirmed that at the very least he has a broken nose and a potential broken orbital bone in addition to some deep lacerations on his face. It was also the first time he had went to a decision in his 13 fight career which may have helped to alleviate some of his cardio concerns, though he was clearly had little left in the tank in the later rounds.
On the other hand there was also plenty of holes to be found in Carwin’s game that will be a cause for concern going forward. Despite cutting a considerable weight in preparation for this fight he looked somewhat sluggish and flat-footed even in the early stages of the first round, while his attempts to use his wrestling to take the fight to the ground were easily shrugged off by Dos Santos.
Despite not being known as a wrestler the Brazilian was able to take Carwin down in the third round twice with relative ease, much as Lesnar did in the second round of their fight last year.
So there’s a lot to be taken from this performance and it will be interesting to see how Carwin is able to evolve from this going forward and whether he can once again mount a serious title push before he calls time on his career.