Shane Carwin (9-0 MMA 1-0 UFC) vs. Neil Wain (4-0 MMA 0-0 UFC)
This fight is a very dangerous coming-out party for Shane Carwin. The UFC is attempting to restock their barren Heavyweight division with promising new talent and Carwin is the crown jewel of the collection. The undefeated fighter /engineer from Colorado looks the part and talks the talk for a rare combo in MMA. Ushered along carefully he can be a star in this sport, a fact that has not slipped by Dana White and Joe Silva. With so much invested in a fighter, the decision to pair him up with Wain must have been a tough one. Although Wain does not have anywhere near the overall skill set that Carwin has available to him, Wain possesses knockout power in both hands that can knock him out and halt the Carwin hype train dead in its tracks. Carwin is one mistake away from turning this fight into the Neil Wain coming-out party.
Shane Carwin comes from a very good collegiate wrestling background. He has shown an excellent aptitude for boxing and has been making huge leaps in his standup attack. Carwin’s best offensive weapon at this point is his ground and pound, as it is some of the most vicious that I have ever seen. Carwin’s overall striking is pretty good when you consider he is still a part-time fighter and has had limited training and fighting time. Carwin possesses knockout power in both hands and is not afraid to use it. He has not shown much in the way of kicks, but can you really blame him? Shane Carwin has never fought longer than 2 minutes 11 seconds and the combined fight time in all 9 of his wins is under 10 minutes. Carwin’s highlight reel is also his complete career.
Neil Wain is the definition of a British brawler. Short and stocky compared to other fighters in the weight class, he has decent hands with knockout power. Wain is a novice grappler, but seems to have a natural affinity for wrestling. Wain has shown favorable takedown ability and a respectable ground and pound offense. He also hands his opponent a definitive size advantage as Wain weighs in around 240lbs at fight time while Carwin has been known to push the 265lb limit. He is not bashful as his amateur boxing background gives Wain the confidence to stand and trade with any opponent. Unfortunately for Wain, he is still a very raw talent and may have pushed himself too far-to fast in his MMA career. Wain also has not fought longer than 2 minutes in any of his 4 wins at the professional level.
Both fighters are at an equal disadvantage as there is really no film on either of them to study. Both end fights devastatingly quick. Wain is giving up a definitive reach and size advantage and in only his fifth pro fight has not stepped up to this caliber of event yet. The first-time octagon jitters is a very real condition and will most likely overwhelm Wain. Barring a huge mistake on Carwin’s part, this is his fight to lose. I see Carwin dominating Wain on the feet and using his strikes to set up a first round submission win.
Marcus Davis (14-4 MMA 6-2 UFC) vs. Paul Kelly (7-0 MMA 1-0 UFC)
It is fights like these that make you appreciate the job that the UFC’s match- maker Joe Silva does on a daily basis. I don’t think there could have been a better matchup for Marcus Davis after his loss to Mike Swick at UFC 85. Paul Kelly is a very impressive fighter out of the Wolfslair academy. Kelly is a push-the-pace type of fighter, and will be in Marcus’ face the entire fight. This is the type of opponent that brings the best out of Davis and enables him to showcase the talents and aggression that makes him a unbelievable draw for the UFC in Europe.
Davis started boxing at the age of 14 and turned professional by the age of 19. He was a talented boxer and accrued an impressive record of 17-1-2. But Davis realized that there was no future or money in his boxing career and made the switch to mixed martial arts. After training for a few years in Maine and eventually opening up his own gym, a student of his named Tim Sylvia had found a new gym in Iowa and invited Davis to come along. It was that introduction to Pat Militech that changed his career path in MMA. Shortly after making the move to Militech fighting systems, he was selected to participate in the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. After losing in the finale of the show to Melvin Guillard, he rededicated himself to the sport and to improving his weak points. Davis traveled to Ohio to train with fellow season two cast member Jorge Gurgel to improve his lacking submission game, as well as to Massachusetts to train Muay Thai with renowned coach Mark Dellagrotte. His renewed work ethic showed as Davis proceeded to rattle off an eleven fight win streak, 6 of those in the UFC. An increased work load in training and a busy fight schedule led Davis to enter his last fight against top-tier opponent Mike Swick injured, and it showed in his performance. He dropped a lackluster unanimous decision to Swick but took the loss in stride.
Davis has incredible hand speed with excellent head movement and may be the most technical boxer in all of MMA. His knockout power is undeniable and Davis has the kicking game to match. Dellagrotte has helped Davis put all the pieces together to make a well-rounded striking attack. But Davis is not a one-trick pony. After TUF 2 he realized his submission game was sorely lacking, and dedicated himself to becoming a complete MMA fighter. He did nothing but grapple for a full year and forced himself to try and win by Submission. The results were an astounding 6 submission victories in a 9 fight stretch.
Davis still has some holes in his game. He has a proclivity to rely on his punching power and will let his over-aggressiveness get him into bad situations. Davis’ defensive guard is adequate but has a tendency to stall on his back and let his opponent dictate the pace from his guard. His sprawl and takedown defense is still a little sketchy, but his ability to stand back up has improved dramatically.
Paul Kelly is probably most famous for being a training partner of Michael Bisping’s at the Wolfslair academy in England. Kelly is coming off of his first win at UFC 80 over fellow Brit Paul Taylor in what would be mildly called an outright war. Kelly kept up a frentic pace that eventually overwhelmed his opponent. Kelly is a relative newcomer to the sport as this is only his third year of professional fighting.
Kelly is physically gifted with incredible strength for his size and knows how to use it combined with technique instead of just trying to overpower his opponents and exhausting himself in the process. As he demonstrated in his UFC debut, he is a conditioning machine and has gas for days on end. Kelly also proved he is strong of mind as well as he did not succumb to the first time octagon jitters that so many in his stead have done. He is an average striker at best but is fundamentally sound and can do damage over the course of the fight. Kelly’s strong suit is his grappling, his physical strength enables him over-power opponents with a dangerous ground and pound. Kelly’s strength also allows him to power out of most submission attempts.
Although his physical strength is an advantage, it can also cause issues for him. Kelly has a tendency to use his strength as a crutch in place of technique. As a result he found himself in several bad positions in the Paul Taylor fight that would have cost him the win if he was in the octagon with a more experienced grappler. The most dangerous flaws in his game is his over-aggressiveness coupled with his tendency to keep his hands to low. It is a deadly combination that if not rectified quickly will spell disaster for him.
Like I said in the opening, this is the perfect showcase opponent for Marcus Davis. An aggressive conditioning machine with a penchant for walking into fights with his head first and hands down. Kelly is an amazingly tough guy and is capable of absorbing an enormous amount of damage. As a result I do not know if Davis will be able to finish the Brit. But I suspect that Davis will wear down Kelly over the course of the fight and cruise to an easy unanimous decision win.