UFC 116’s titanic heavyweight title clash between current champion Brock Lesnar and interim belt holder Shane Carwin in one of the biggest fight the promotion will put on this year.
The promotional push for the July 3rd event may not quite reach the level we saw for last weekend’s UFC 114: Rampage Vs Evans fight though as both Lesnar and Carwin appear to be shunning the media spotlight.
For example Lesnar, arguably the sport’s biggest draw at this moment in time, has turned down the UFC’s plan to do a ‘Primetime’ series featuring the two men in the build-up to the fight. That’s very unfortunate as this was the perfect fight for such a show, featuring one of the most intriguing pre-fight storylines MMA has ever witnessed, and could have smashed the 1 million + viewing average enjoyed by Rampage Vs Evans stint on the series.
Lesnar is not the only one rocking the boat however. Carwin’s has also taken a step back from the spotlight ahead of his fight as he announced on twitter he was cutting back his access to the media.
“FYI I am not doing any media this month. If you have questions go to www.shane-carwin.com and you can post them in the forum thanks.”
Carwin later clarified that he would only be talking to media who have been credentialed by the UFC, saying that he simply did not have enough time to deal with the various other outlets looking for interviews.
For Lesnar in particular, his decision is understandable. he is well known for not relishing the media’s attention in the build-up to fights, and after a life-threatening battle with Diverticulitis it’s not surprising that he just wants to be left alone to focus on his training and preparation for his comeback.
Carwin has no such concerns, but he is in the unusual position of being a top level fighter who still holds down a full-time job as a mechanical engineer. Therefore it’s remarkable in many respects that he finds time to do any interviews at all, given that he also has to fit in is training and spend time with his family.
It’s his decision to continue working though, and it will be interesting to see if the UFC will at some stage in the future lean on him to commit to the sport full-time, particularly if he does defeat Lesnar to become the new heavyweight champion in July.
Overall it’s certainly not ideal from the UFC’s perspective, but what they do have in their favor is that this is a fight that practically sells itself. Due to Brock Lesnar’s notoriety both in MMA and from his past in pro-wrestling, anytime he fights it’s big news. The fact that he’s returning from a major illness is only going to amplify that further – and crucially should get a lot of play within the mainstream media.
The icing on the cake is that he’s now facing a man of similar size and stature who many believe will give him the biggest test of his MMA career to date.
Primetime series or not, this bout has all the ingredients to be a summer blockbuster.