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Shane Carwin – Another Road to Cross

When a back injury kept two-time Division II All-American linebacker Shane Carwin from making a run at a career in the NFL, there was no telling him that this was just a detour.

Shane CarwinWhen
a back injury kept two-time Division II All-American linebacker Shane
Carwin from making a run at a career in the NFL, there was no telling
him that this was just a detour and not his final destination.

“Honestly, when I got injured before the NFL, it was everything I
was living for at that point, and I was devastated,” said the Western
State College of Colorado graduate.

But eventually, he dusted himself off, went off to the Colorado
School of Mines to add a BS in Mechanical Engineering to his BA in
Environmental Technology, and soon, he was engaging in a new
professional sport – mixed martial arts.

Speed ahead to the present day, and Carwin is one of the biggest
names in the sport, unbeaten in 12 fights and a day away from competing
for the UFC heavyweight crown against Brock Lesnar in the most talked
about event of the year. But the Colorado native isn’t overwhelmed by
the moment; in fact, he’s taking it all in, relishing each day since
one of his worst. It’s probably the biggest lesson he took from the
disappointment he felt all those years ago – take stock of the journey,
because that’s what eventually makes the man.

“I rethought a lot of things,” said Carwin of life after football.
“And sometimes, it’s not the end result, but it’s the process in
getting there and making sure that you enjoy those moments, and all
these special times. This is a special time in my life, in my family’s
life, and for my fans, and it’s been building up to this fight. I think
that’s where a lot of memories come from, at least for me. The fight is
just the end result, and what I can do in the fight is go in there and
do the best I can do, and that’s all I can ask of myself.”

With that statement, Carwin has done the most important thing he can
do before what is undoubtedly the biggest fight of his life – he’s
taken the pressure off. Now all he has to worry about is fight night, a
one on one struggle with Lesnar. Doesn’t sound easy, especially to us
civilians, but when you take away all the media appearances, bright
lights, photo ops, and pulls on your time, you’ve whittled things down
to their basic element, and that’s the fight. Carwin doesn’t even
concern himself with who it is standing across the Octagon from him
Saturday night.

“I really don’t focus that much on my opponent,” he said. “I know
its Brock, but honestly, this camp has been a little bit quieter than
the rest of the camps. It’s either that or maybe I’m used to it. There
was the Countdown and all that stuff with (Gabriel) Gonzaga and then
the same thing with (Frank) Mir, and it seems like that stuff was
shorter and easier this time. It’s just like anything – it becomes
second nature. All that stuff is part of it, so when producers come in
I have a good time with them and we have fun and they know that if they
come to my camp, they’re gonna get a couple bodyshots. (Laughs) But
it’s actually been like the calm before the storm.”

There will be a storm though, and to get ready for it, Carwin has
been putting in his usual long hours at the Grudge Training Center in
Colorado. Yet once again, there is no ‘come on Shane, do another round,
this is the biggest fight of your life’ type pressure. The boys in the
gym have been there before, and they’re treating this one as just
another fight.

“Its business as usual,” said Carwin. “The main thing and the things
that I like to focus on are myself and improving myself. That’s where I
think the biggest gains for me can be in a fight - making myself a
better fighter rather than trying to prepare myself for who I’m
fighting against and their strengths. I believe that I can increase my
strengths in all the areas that much more.”

The evolution of Shane Carwin – mixed martial artist – was evident in his most recent fight in March ufc111_09_carwin_vs_mir_002against
Frank Mir. Yeah, the concussive power was still there and perhaps even
more impressive considering that the finishing sequence was kicked off
by close range shots that he didn’t get his full torque behind, but
what was most impressive about Carwin was his patience and poise before
the end came. Or as Carwin says with a chuckle, “I came in a little
relaxed for once, I didn’t just charge across the Octagon like a big

Such patience will serve him well against the dangerous Lesnar,
whose speed, strength and athleticism can take a dose of
over-aggression from his opponent and turn it into a victory. But
Carwin likes to think he’s got what it takes to do the same to the

“Hopefully I can combat his athleticism and size with my own,” he
said. “I like to think that I’m a better athlete than him. I don’t know
what the other sports or athletic endeavors he took part in, but I’d be
willing to challenge him in a lot of things.”

This competitive spirit, which is matched by Lesnar’s, adds to the
intrigue of this fight, and while Carwin hasn’t gone to extremes in
thinking about his opponent – no pictures on the mirror or that sort of
thing – he doesn’t believe a year long layoff will affect the man
across from him on fight night.

“The thing about this sport is that if you watch me and the
progression of my fights, that progression is really fast for a lot of
us, so I expect Brock should be a more complete fighter when he comes
out there, so I have to be prepared for that. It wouldn’t surprise me
if his striking is that much better, and his ground game is as well.”

If Carwin has his way, we won’t get a chance to see if Lesnar has
progressed at all, and he will notch lucky number 13 the way he has the
previous 12 – in 3:48 or less. Which of course brings up the 800-pound
gorilla in the room, but he’s become immune to questions about his

“I get that question a lot and it always leads into something else,”
he laughs. “It’s still the question about my cardio. Until it’s proved,
people are always gonna have those questions, and even when that
happens there will be a question about something else. It’s just the
nature of the beast, I guess.”

Carwin does admit that he wouldn’t mind a classic war though, whether Saturday or in the future.

“I think I kinda crave a little bit of a war inside, and it’s those
battles when you come out with the victory that probably mean the most
just because you’re tested through a little bit of adversity.”

He pauses.

“But getting a quick knockout and finishing the fight early is great also.”

Shane Carwin’s come a long way in a short time if you look at his
life in the fight game, but in reality, this has been a lifelong quest
to get to this point. No pressure though; and if you think things will
be different for him on July 4th, they will be, but he will still be
Shane Carwin.

“I’ll still be the same guy,” he said. “My family is first and
foremost, the most important thing in my life, and as long as my wife
and I are talking about what needs to be done at home and with the
family and with fighting and everything else, I think everything will
be good.”