It was announced yesterday that former interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin decided to retire at age 38. During the age of the giant heavyweights, Carwin and Brock Lesnar were touted as the future of the division. It was thought that it would be difficult for anyone to deal with the immense size and strength of the two fighters. Many believed it was time to divide the heavyweight division up so that fighters like Cain Velasquez could compete with fighters who were their own size.
While we later learned that Lesnar was never the type of heavyweight to truly dominate the division, I think that Carwin missed the boat on his full potential due to injuries. Now, there were rumors that he could have been a late round pick during his days playing college football but that was derailed by injuries. Clearly, Carwin is a guy who had an injury-prone body and that proved to be his downfall. But on the other hand, I also think that his wrestling credentials were a bit inflated as well. While he defended the takedowns of Frank Mir effectively, Mir has never been the greatest offensive wrestler.
Still, his wrestling was enough that he was able to stand with most heavyweights and because the heavyweight division is so thin, it was enough to propel him to a title shot. Looking at his record, his best wins were over Gabriel Gonzaga and Frank Mir. That’s not exactly a murderer’s row but he also damn near beat Brock Lesnar into submission. If not for a delay by referee Josh Rosenthal (which I thought was warranted), Carwin might have been the UFC heavyweight champion.
If Carwin had started training directly after college and if he had focused on MMA rather than being both an engineer and a professional fighter, he might have reached an incredibly high peak. His boxing was fundamentally sound but it was clear he relied too much on power and needed to develop further technique. Junior Dos Santos showed Carwin what true boxing prowess looked like. But with an iron chin, a strong wrestling base, and one punch knockout power, Carwin could really have developed into a staple of the heavyweight division if he had started earlier and focused more time on his MMA training.