Heavyweights Shane Carwin and Junior dos Santos headline UFC 131 from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Originally dos Santos was slated to face former champ Brock Lesnar. The two coached the 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite one another. But Lesnar's diverticulitis returned, forcing a surgery to remove a foot of large intestine and cancelling the bout.
Shane Carwin, who'd been slated to welcome Jon Olav Einemo to the UFC, stepped up to face dos Santos. The fight is expected to determine the first challenger to heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez when he returns from rotator cuff surgery in the fall.
As befits a #1 contender's bout, Carwin vs dos Santos is too close to call. Both men have crushing knock out power and prefer to stand on their feet and use their fists to batter opponents into unconsciousness. Carwin has the most raw power but dos Santos is the better boxing technician.
Carwin, a former division 2 NCAA national champion wrestler, should be able to force the fight to the ground if he so chooses but dos Santos has proven very difficult to keep on the ground. If Carwin is able to take dos Santos down and apply the bludgeoning ground and pound that finished Frank Mir at UFC 111, dos Santos will be in deep trouble.
Dos Santos trains with the legendary Nogueira brothers so he should at least have a strong understanding of jiu jitsu, but we've never seen him forced to fight off his back and as a KO artist he hasn't shown any interest in going for take downs himself.
Carwin hasn't fought since losing his title shot to Brock Lesnar at UFC 116. He took time off to have neck and back surgery and has dramatically changed his training regimen to emphasize stamina rather than sheer muscle power after he faded horribly in the second round against Lesnar. At 36 years old it's an open question how well Carwin will have recovered from the surgery. It's also unknown how differently he'll fight after cutting 30 pounds of muscle in a quest for more staying power.
Given the number of unknowns -- dos Santos' ground game, Carwin's conditioning -- it's basically a coin toss.
|Kickboxing||What's That?||1||Kicking?||dos Santos|
|Dirty Boxing||Lethal||1||Mess You Up||Carwin|
|Thai Clinch||Good||1||Very Good||dos Santos|
|Positional Control||Very Good||1||Good||Carwin|
|Bottom Game||Hapless||1||Very Good?||dos Santos|