Saturday night things looked pretty bad for former UFC interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin. Junior dos Santos battered him from pillar to post, breaking his nose, lacerating his face, and generally dominating for 15 minutes. In sports, there are victories and then there are moral victories. Dos Santos got the win - but Carwin's trainer Trevor Wittman tells MMA Mania that it was Carwin who was the real winner at UFC 131:
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.
I have to confess - when I heard Shane Carwin's nose break, an audible crack that made my wife turn away from the screen as blood immediately poured forth, I wasn't thinking about moral victories. What I saw was a fighter who had aged before our eyes, a 36 year old who had feasted on lesser opponents with his power punching, running face first into a bonafide boxer for the first time.
How did dos Santos manage to so convincingly beat a top contender? Maybe Carwin was paying the price for being 36 years old. Maybe he was suffering the lingering effects of multiple injuries and a back surgery that had sidelined him for months. Maybe it was the noticeable deflation, as Carwin shrunk from a mammoth 285 pounds down to just 250 plus. Or maybe, just maybe, dos Santos is really that good.
Whatever the cause, the UFC's former interim heavyweight champion was absolutely shellacked by number one contender Junior dos Santos Saturday night in Vancouver. Dos Santos consistently beat Carwin to the punch, landing a crisp jab for 15 minutes, a punch that broke Carwin's confidence while, conveniently, also breaking his face.
And just like that, the era of the giant heavyweight was over and done - almost before it even started. The talking point last year was that giant heavyweights like Carwin and Brock Lesnar were the wave of the future. That men cutting weight from upwards of 285 pounds down to the heavyweight limit of 265 would smash Hulk style. But we forgot one thing - speed, as we've learned over and over again in sports, kills.
Carwin was like the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare parable, only an alternate reality fairy tale in which the rabbit nearly beats him to death. He plodded around the cage, seemingly content with Junior strolling over occasionally to punch him in the face. Historically, it's a result that was predictable. Over and over again we've seen smaller, quicker, and more skilled heavyweights win UFC gold. Randy Couture, Kevin Randleman, and Bas Rutten were blown up light heavyweights. Andrei Arlovski walloped bigger men with speed and finesse. And the greatest heavyweight of all time, Fedor Emelianenko, weighs 220 pounds, much of that ice cream.
Where Carwin goes from here is anyone's guess. He looked spent Saturday, done. He can continue to demolish the division's dredges, but his future as a contender seems all but finished. As for dos Santos, his performance must have bolstered fans who love his boxing but lived in secret fear of the takedown. He stuffed Carwin twice and the one time he hit the mat, he was able to spring almost immediately up to his feet.
Of course, champion Cain Velasquez is no Shane Carwin. He'll come forward, fighting hard for 25 minutes if needed, never fearing he will be short of breath like Carwin, who gassed badly against Brock Lesnar in his shot at fame and fortune.
Dos Santos and Velasquez both stammered through a post fight hype session for their inevitable fight. It hardly matters. Both do their talking in the cage. When they meet in the middle, neither will approach 250 pounds. The age of the mammoth is over - killed by Junior dos Santos Saturday in Vancouver.