Wednesday, June 30, 2010 | 11:55 p.m.
Shane Carwin says he’s never considered himself to be anything but an average guy his entire life.
And no matter what happens in his UFC title fight against Brock Lesnar this weekend, he’ll continue thinking of himself that way when it’s over.
The 35-year-old fighter was the center of attention during an open workout Wednesday at the MGM Grand Conference Center, as hundreds of fans turned out to show support to their favorite fighters.
Between signing autographs and posing for pictures, Carwin (12-0) said he’s just happy to be fortunate enough to do something he loves.
“I’m still an average guy,” Carwin said. “I’ve worked hard since I was 15 to put myself through college and life. Nothing has changed and nothing will change.
“It’s still crazy to me that people want my autograph.”
The average guy from Greeley, Colo., will finally get his heavyweight title shot against champ Brock Lesnar (4-1) on Saturday — a chance he’s had to wait a long time for.
A fight between the two scheduled for November was postponed when Lesnar withdrew with a stomach ailment that kept him out of training until January.
With the fight he’s wanted for so long finally here, Carwin appeared to be in great spirits Wednesday — an observation his camp members confirmed.
“His emotion is, he’s excited,” said Carwin’s trainer, Trevor Wittman. “He’s the most relaxed and comfortable I’ve ever seen him. He’s been wanting this fight for a long time and it’s finally here.”
As much as Carwin wanted the fight seven months ago when it was originally planned, having to wait for the fight may turn out to work to his advantage.
Seven months ago, Carwin was still dealing with knee problems that had kept him out of action since March 2009. He was also expecting the arrival of his daughter.
Today, Carwin’s confidence is at an all-time high following a dominant performance over Frank Mir at UFC 111. His knee is 100 percent healed and his daughter, Alexis, arrived healthy in February.
“Right now, all I can say is that he’s in a different mental state completely,” Wittman said. “I am so much more comfortable right now with this fight than I would have been six months ago. There’s nothing else on his shoulders.”
Wittman credits the Mir fight especially for growing confidence in Carwin’s camp.
Although Lesnar is the champ, Wittman admitted he felt Mir presented a tougher matchup.
“It was definitely good confidence for me because I thought the Mir fight was going to be tougher than the Brock fight,” Wittman said. “I think we can nullify Brock’s size, but Mir has got so many more tools.
“Shane was disciplined with a good game plan and it turned out perfect.”
As frustrated as Carwin was during the long period of limbo when he went from fighting Cain Velasquez to Lesnar to, finally, Mir, he’s equally as happy to be on the cusp of his first title shot this weekend.
When asked what it would mean to become the UFC heavyweight champion, Carwin said it would be a dream come true — a dream he says began when Wittman told him he had what it took to be a world champion.
Should it happen, Carwin might have a hard time convincing anyone he’s still an "average guy." Except for maybe his wife, Lani.
“I looked over at my wife the other day and asked her, ‘Do you realize you’re married to one of the baddest men on the planet?’" said Carwin. “It didn’t impress her.”
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.