Friday, June 10, 2011 | midnight
Dana White UFC 131 Fireside Chat
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer discuss UFC on their weekly radio show, which airs Monday at 5:30 on 91.5 KUNV. They preview this weekend's UFC 131 fight card in Vancouver and briefly look back at last week's "The Ultimate Fighter" 13 finale.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Video from the first round of the UFC 116 main event last summer played on repeat in the theater of Shane Carwin’s mind.
Carwin beat then-UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar into oblivion and nearly defeat in the first five minutes. Then, with Carwin drained of all energy, Lesnar came back to win via submission in the second round.
Carwin constantly thought back about the specifics and what could have changed the outcome for a while. Should he have traded a few of his ground-and-pound strikes for a couple deep breaths? Could he have allowed Lesnar back to his feet and attempt to knock him out from there?
Carwin kept coming to the same conclusion.
“I would do the same thing,” he said. “I would go to finish the fight. It was so close and (the referee) knew it was close. He said it several times. When you hear the ref telling the other guy he has to do something or he’s going to stop the fight, you pick up the pace and try to get that stoppage.”
But that answer also brought another question to Carwin — why was he ever in a position to get that gassed in the first place? Carwin has spent the 11 months since the loss, the only one of his career, doing all he can to assure it will never happen again.
He’s changed his diet, amped up his conditioning and dropped weight. For the first time in his career, Carwin feels like an elite athlete entering Saturday’s UFC 131 main event bout against Junior dos Santos.
“You can always learn a lot from a fight,” Carwin said. “It taught me a lot about life, about fighting and about some things I need to do to change.”
“It taught me about eating healthy and eating for recovery.”
Carwin has weighed about 250 pounds for weeks leading up to the bout against dos Santos. During a similar time before the Lesnar fight, he weighed 280 pounds and had to cut to 265 before the weigh-in.
Although Carwin doesn’t expect the contest to get past the second round, his team has spent extended time preparing him for 15 minutes. Carwin said the perceived advantage dos Santos had in his cardio was a myth.
“Eating like this and with this nutrition, I have more energy and I feel like I can do more things,” Carwin said. “Even in camp I could, and you know camp is so hard.”
Label dos Santos as skeptical of all that talk. Dos Santos shook his head when asked if Carwin’s adjustments put the two on a level playing field.
He said it would take longer than one training camp for a fighter to significantly improve his conditioning.
“I think it’s an advantage for me,” dos Santos said. “The first time he ever fought and went to the second round, he lost the fight. For sure, I’m going to use that in my strategy.”
Despite Carwin’s noticeably slimmer physique, dos Santos seems suspicious of the entire narrative. Carwin said his improved athleticism would help him land quicker strikes.
But dos Santos doesn’t even believe Carwin wants to keep the fight standing. Dos Santos has mentioned multiple times this week that he thought Carwin would try to out-wrestle him and get him on the floor from the beginning.
“I think Shane Carwin comes from wrestling and I’m faster than him,” dos Santos said. “As soon as he feels my hands and feet, I think he’s going to try to take me down.”
If Carwin finds himself in a similar position as his last fight, he expects all the adjustments he’s made to ensure that he doesn’t suffer from exhaustion again.
But he wouldn’t act any differently in the situation. Carwin has thought about the Lesnar fight enough to know that.
“You come to the realization that that’s who I am,” Carwin said. “When I have someone wounded, I go for in the kill. I don’t think there’s any changing that.”