Shane Carwin vs. Brock Lesnar is the sort of heavyweight title fight that the UFC has always dreamed of. Lesnar is well on his way towards establishing himself as the most dominant heavyweight in the sport and Carwin is an up and coming fighter with an immaculate record.
Carwin has faced twelve opponents in his career to date and all twelve have been finished via stoppage in the very first round. Lesnar has lost only once, by submission to Frank Mir in his UFC debut, and he subsequently avenged that loss, unifying the heavyweight division in the process.
The barren days in which fighters the caliber of Tim Sylvia and Jeff Monson competing for the UFC heavyweight title are long gone. The division has long since taken its rightful place as the most marketable weight class the organization has and UFC 116 will be the culmination of years of effort on the behalf of the UFC matchmakers in acquiring the best heavyweight talent in the world.
Three outstanding fighters have emerged from the much improved UFC heavyweight division, Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez. The UFC is now in the enviable position of being able to put on at least two massive heavyweight fights, the first will come at UFC 116, the second when the winner emerges to face Velasquez.
Heavyweight fights traditionally carry more prestige than those in any other weight class, a fact which will definitely not be lost on the UFC. The fight between Carwin and Lesnar has been described by UFC President Dana White as ‘the biggest in UFC history’ and is likely to do more than a million pay per view buys.
For all the hype, there will only be two men in the Octagon at the UFC 116 main event. One of them, Lesnar, is absolutely enormous, and his sheer bulk has half of the heavyweight division starting to thinking serious thoughts about cutting down to 205 lbs
Carwin is not much smaller and possesses more power in his right hand then arguably any other fighter in UFC history. Lesnar has excellent wrestling credentials and will be looking to follow the blueprint for success which has seen him stop Randy Couture and Frank Mir in his last two Octagon appearances. Lesnar’s game plan will undoubtedly be to get Carwin on the floor with his 265 lbs + frame on top of him and ground and pound his way towards unifying the UFC heavyweight title.
Carwin, who holds an interim version of the UFC heavyweight title, will be looking to land a big right hand and finish the fight early. Lesnar is still a relative newcomer to the sport of MMA and his striking is still not exactly crisp. Randy Couture was able to pick Tim Sylvia apart with punches in their title fight he was nothing like as effective with his hands against Lesnar and this will give the Lesnar camp confidence that their man can stay out of harm’s way against the hard hitting Carwin.
It is easy to forget that there are four other fights on the main card, which is not a bad thing as they are all fairly forgettable match ups. An injury to Wanderlei Silva denied fans the chance to see the always interesting Brazilian in action against Japanese fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Akiyama was less than convincing in his UFC debut against Alan Belcher and will be expecting an emphatic victory against Silva’s replacement, Chris Leben. He has been quite vocal about the fact that he feels Leben is an inferior opponent but would be well advised not to underestimate Leben who is a veteran of 15 previous UFC appearances.
Akiyama was extremely fortunate to get the benefit of the judge’s doubt against Belcher and will need to put his money where his mouth is with an impressive performance in his fight with TUF veteran Leben.
Chris Lytle and Matt Brown first met in 2007 outside of the UFC with Lytle winning with a rear naked choke. Lytle’s last four fights have either won fight of the night or submission of the night honors with Lytle emerging victorious from all of them except for a debatable split decision loss to Marcus Davis.
Brown is coming off a submission loss to Ricardo Almeida and will likely feel like he is fighting for his UFC future while the UFC must be hoping that Lytle can continue his recent habit of getting involved in exciting, fan friendly fights.
Stephan Bonnar is another man who has played his part in some of the most entertaining match ups in the recent history of the UFC. He will be facing Krzysztof Soszynski for the second time this year after the unsatisfactory ending to their first meeting.
The first fight was awarded to Soszynski as Bonnar was unable to continue due to a cut which replays showed was caused by an accidental head butt. A fourth consecutive loss for Bonnar would cast serious doubt over his UFC future and he will be looking to get his career back on track with a win against the ‘Polish Experiment’.
George Sotiropoulos has gone from strength to strength since competing on TUF 6 and is undefeated in the UFC with five wins out of five. After a slow start to his UFC career Kurt Pellegrino is now riding a four fight win streak and the winner of this contest will propel themselves to somewhere approaching the top of the lightweight division.
All eyes will be on Lesnar and Carwin though and most fight fans will view any entertainment to be found away from the main event a something of a bonus. The UFC would have you believe that Lesnar is already the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter there is but for me he is still two wins away from proving them right.
The first of those wins will need to come against Carwin at UFC 116 but Lesnar will need to keep his wits about him if he is to avoid being on the wrong end of an eighth consecutive knock out for Carwin.