By CagePotato contributor Dallas Winston
For a match-up of such epic proportions, both literally and figuratively, Lesnar vs. Carwin does not offer a ton of evidence to analyze.
In the grand scheme of the MMA heavyweight scene, both Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin are relative newcomers, as their total career fights combined equates to a number one-half of former god Fedor Emelianenko’s times at bat. In only five fights, Lesnar has shown marked improvement and new aspects of an evolving game in each outing, and even though Carwin specified that his focus is becoming a well-rounded fighter, his right hand alone has left a trail of twelve motionless cadavers in its wake.
My team of MMA scientists submitted the official report from their pre-fight ceremonial ritual — in which bits of evidence are fed into the “MMA Math Machine” to extrapolate key factors that assist in fight predictions — and the findings for both read: Big. Strong. Wrestle good. Punch hard.
As much I’d like to over-glorify things, that’s really what this fight boils down to.
After a timely referee intervention and a Frank Mir kneebar that Oleg Taktarov surely toasted a shot of Smirnoff to, it seemed Lesnar fit the prototypical example of a strong and berserk aggressor who was no match for the technical superiority of a modern day mixed martial artist. Hardcore MMA fans cited Bohlander/Jackson while exchanging high-fives. Big Brock went on to display shades of technical basics in western boxing and Jiu Jitsu positioning; making his natural athleticism, freakish stature, and wrestling acumen a scary starting point rather than the limit to his abilities. WWE fans ripped their shirts off, flexed, chewed some Skoal, and went cow-tipping in celebratory bacchanal.
Anticipating a caveman takedown in their UFC 87 clash, Herring instead swallowed a leather-coated porterhouse steak in the opening moments that sent him flailing backwards, opening the cell door to Brock’s opportunity for three rounds of prison style rape. Brock actually came under fire for being unable to finish the experienced Herring (as only Cro Cop and Fedor could), but he proved how a conceptual grasp of BJJ can quickly bestow a green MMA grappler with good ground defense and an ideal perch to shower down hammerfists. Fast forward to Frank Mir II, where what was deemed a primitive “hold head, smash face” tactic was really a calculated neck crank against the fence that petrified Mir’s normally active guard and cleared the runway for unhindered clobbering.
Randy Couture, who helped Lesnar prepare for Carwin, crumbled under a glancing Lesnar right hand that was delivered with exceptional form for only five fights deep. Couture is not known as a striker, but let’s not forget that this is the man famous for slithering through blows in victories over renowned strikers like Vitor Belfort, Pedro Rizzo, Chuck Liddell, Tim Sylvia, and Brandon Vera.
The reason small details like tucking your chin when throwing a punch and staying light on your feet with your hands up are important is because it’s the very reason Shane Carwin got tagged square in the jaw by Wain, Wellisch, and Gonzaga. Long-term cardio and consistent output are question marks, as Carwin has never fought five full minutes nor enjoyed a seat on the stool in between rounds, burying everyone he’s faced in the first frame. Despite any suggestion of the slightest Carwin flaw being easily refuted by the statement “so what, he’s undefeated,” miniscule elements like this often make the difference. They’re also the only real warning signs you can point out about the guy.
He’s not a submission wizard, but that’s a wash against Brock. Both stated that BJJ is a big part of their training regimen, but neither have clocked any live fight-time off their back and probably won’t feel at ease in that position. There’s an argument for Brock having a slight edge in wrestling, but it’s close enough that the differentiator will likely center around timing and whoever sets up the takedown better.
Since match-ups between heralded grapplers often unfold in kickboxing affairs and both Lesnar and Carwin can torque more power standing than on the ground, I wouldn’t be surprised if the fight never goes to the mat. Some tiny nitpicking on Carwin’s striking defense, such as idle head-movement, having the tendency to remain flat-footed, and hanging his chin out would steer me toward Brock and his surprisingly ample boxing technique. The ability to vanquish opponents into the underworld of Hades with a mere touch of the hand often forgives many such sins.
Carwin’s rap sheet gives him the straight power-punching advantage, but Brock’s agility and footwork should allow him to avoid Hiroshima in the Octagon. Either fighter that can incorporate leg kicks could target the heavy lead leg both bear from their wrestling-oriented stance, but I don’t believe either fighter has even attempted the technique. It’s a toss-up, but it seems Brock should be more resilient with takedown defense, and the way everything has bounced off his chin so far puts him slightly ahead to out-box Carwin and hold his own everywhere else.
Though a single punch, takedown, or mistake could completely change or end the fight…
My Prediction: Lesnar by TKO