(That guy in the lower left still has nightmares to this day. Photo courtesy of 5oz.)
Great news, everybody: Shane Carwin may finally be getting a real opponent. Not to say that his past opponents haven’t been "real," in a literal sense — they’ve all unquestionably had height, width, and depth, and existed in what we all perceive as the physical realm — but anybody who’s seen the massive heavyweight prospect fight knows that he has enough talent to be a title contender, and deserves better competition than the palookas he’s been stomping lately. Over ten fights, Carwin has racked up ten first-round stoppages, with the longest being his pro debut against Carlton Jones, which went to the 2:11 mark. His two opponents in the UFC, Christian Wellisch and Neil Wain, were rescued at the 0:44 and 1:31 marks, respectively.
So anyway, it looks like he’s getting Gabriel Gonzaga (10-3) next. FiveOuncesofPain reports that Carwin and "Napao" will be meeting at UFC 96 (March 7th; Columbus, Ohio). Gonzaga was briefly considered one of the ten best heavyweights in the world, before consecutive losses to Randy Couture and Fabricio Werdum derailed his momentum. Since then, he’s gotten his balls back with quick stoppage victories over Justin McCully and most recently Josh Hendricks at last month’s UFC 91. Gonzaga and Carwin both lie somewhere in the middle of the UFC’s heavyweight ladder, and the winner of their fight will take a big step towards a title shot. Though Gonzaga has unraveled against tough competition in the past, he’ll be the first legitimate test for Carwin. Should be a corker.
In other fight-booking news…
— Fresh off a drilling of Jason MacDonald at the Ultimate Fighter 8 finale last Saturday, Wilson Gouveia has verbally agreed to face Nate Marquardt at UFC 95 (February 21st, London). Marquardt is coming off a first-round TKO victory over Martin Kampmann at UFC 88.
— Former all-American wrestler and WEC vet Jake Rosholt will make his UFC debut in a middleweight bout against Alessio Sakara at UFC Fight Night 17 (February 7th; Tampa, Florida). Though his standup looked shaky in his last bout against Nissen Osterneck at WEC 36, Rosholt is undefeated in five pro fights, with all wins by stoppage. Sakara is 4-4 (with one no-contest) in the UFC, and most recently knocked out Joe Vedepo at UFC Fight Night 15.
— New WEC featherweight champ Mike Brown, who scored a shocking upset TKO over Urijah Faber at WEC 36, has agreed to take on Leonard Garcia for his first title defense in March. Brown is on an eight-fight win streak and hasn’t lost a match since December 2005. Garcia has been 2-0 since exiting the UFC and dropping from lightweight to featherweight, notching impressive first-round knockout wins over Hiroyuki Takaya and Jens Pulver.