It must have been difficult for Shane Carwin to watch Cain Velasquez have Brock Lesnar in the same position he did just three months prior, yet not make the same mistake he did by punching himself out, and ultimately get the TKO victory and the UFC heavyweight title.
Carwin gives us a hint of how it must have felt via blog post on Shane-Carwin.com after the fight:
“I get it and believe it was hard to watch someone use your game plan with better results, especially when the result is winning the biggest prize in the sport.
What Cain did is what great fighters do, they learn from what they can study. How would have my fight turned out if I had let Brock stand and knock him down again and again? It really doesn’t matter about what happened last night or in July the only thing that matters is what is to be.”
Carwin also warns those who are quick to write Lesnar off because of the loss to Velasquez:
“Those of you writing Brock off should consider this. The man walked into the UFC at the top level (who does that?) and won and defended the UFC HWT Belt. He took a beating from me and came back and found a way to win, he nearly lost his life and he came back and found a way to win, he is 4-2 in MMA and some of the wins are UFC title DEFENSES. He is a real champion, a real warrior and as long as he keeps training and learning MMA he will continue to be a force. Every great champion will lose the great ones rise again and it would not surprise me to see Brock defending a title again one day. Win or lose he should be respected for being the warrior he is.”
Carwin then names four fighters in the UFC heavyweight division he feels are worthy title holders:
“The UFC HWT division has an amazing crop of fighters right now with four worthy title holders (Cain, Brock, JDS [Junior Dos Santos] and myself) and a lot of amazing talent knocking on door to get their name on the list for a title shot. I am honored to be where I am and I know what I need to do to climb back on top of that mountain. I am motivated by the opponents in front of me and pushed by those hot on our heels.”
Carwin’s list of heavyweights seems accurate. Although, Frank Mir and Roy Nelson are likely to disagree. Carwin will tangle with the TUF 10 winner on New Year’s Day at UFC 125 in Las Vegas. If Carwin wins impressively over Nelson it will put him very close to another title shot. Carwin’s only loss is against Lesnar who was champion at the time.
Carwin also mentions he is motivated by those opponents “hot on their heels” fighting to get into the title picture. That would include guys like the aforementioned Mir and Nelson, who are just outside the title picture. However, for Nelson, he could definitely put himself right in there with an impressive win or stoppage of Carwin.
Jon Madsen, who just knocked out Gilbert Yvel at UFC 121 this past weekend, is another guy closing in on the four horsemen. He is still undefeated at 7-0 and has won four straight fights inside the Octagon. He is a smaller heavyweight and the jury is still out on how he can perform against some of the bigger guys.
The way things stand right now though, anyone who wants a shot at the UFC gold will no doubt have to first go through one of the four guardians, Velasquez, Lesnar, Junior Dos Santos or Shane Carwin, before they can be considered deserving of a title shot.
They are like the Knights of the Round Table protecting the sport’s Holy Grail and anyone who wants it must first go through these men who have sacrificed their lives and put their blood, sweat and tears fighting for and protecting the ultimate MMA glory.