Gone are the days when one–punch knockout power is enough to take a mixed martial arts fighter to the top.
Just ask Tank Abbott. Just ask Chuck Liddell.
Just ask Shane Carwin.
Carwin learned the hard way that relying on a power punch alone to win a fight is going to be increasingly difficult in this day and age where MMA has evolved into a dynamic sport where fighters need to be as well rounded as they can be in order to survive.
The heavy-handed Carwin faced Junior Dos Santos at the main event of UFC 131, hoping to win and secure for himself a shot at UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
Originally it wasn’t Carwin who was slated to face Dos Santos for a crack at Velasquez’s title. Dos Santos’s counterpart in the recently concluded “Ultimate Fighter 13” was Brock Lesnar, and the two coaches were supposed to square off against each other. But due to a recurring illness that required surgery, Lesnar had to pull out of the fight.
Enter Shane Carwin.
One would think that Carwin, given this big break, would take advantage of his good fortune. And going into the fight, it seemed that, indeed, he had put in the hard work required for such a high-profile fight: judging by his cut and trim physique, the leanest he has been ever, it was evident that Carwin had worked double time on his cardio (and, additionally, by eating right—Carwin lost thirty-five pounds) And with good reason. Going into the Dos Santos fight, twelve of Carwin’s thirteen fights have ended in the first round. Carwin is a fighter who needs to dispose of his opponent quickly; if the fight lasts the distance, Carwin gasses out. And this became apparent when Carwin faced Lesnar in UFC 116 nearly a year ago. Carwin hurt Lesnar in the first round, but the former survived the onslaught. Lesnar eventually submitted a gassed-out Carwin in the second round via triangle choke.
Shane Carwin showed good cardio in his fight with Dos Santos. He lasted three rounds and didn’t show signs of gassing out. Carwin also showed that he still possesses wicked power in both hands: he visibly hurt Dos Santos several times in the course of the fight.
The bad thing, though, is that Carwin didn’t show anything else.
Dos Santos was the more dynamic fighter; he was the more versatile fighter. While Carwin was content in following Dos Santos around (not even cutting off the ring, mind you) and trying to hit him with winging power punches, Dos Santos was setting up his power punches with a crisp jab. It’s interesting to note that Carwin had the advantage in reach but it was Dos Santos who kept on popping the jab. And it was a jab that proved effective all night long.
In fact, a jab, followed by a hard straight, dropped Carwin in the first round, and Dos Santos immediately took advantage, raining a barrage of unanswered blows on Carwin’s face. Dos Santos, who expected the fight to be stopped, briefly looked at referee Herb Dean, but the latter allowed the fight to continue. Carwin was saved by the bell, but by the time he got up and walked to his corner, his face was a bloody mess.
Carwin wasn’t able to adjust in the next couple of rounds, and Dos Santos was able to coast to an easy unanimous decision victory, with the judges’ scorecards reading 30–27, 30–27, 30–26.
Dos Santos will likely face Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title on October of this year at UFC 136 in Houston, Texas.
As for Carwin, this is his second defeat in a row. In his first loss, he didn’t have the stamina to finish off Lesnar. In this latest defeat, Carwin did have the stamina but relied too much on his knockout power and nothing else.
Carwin’s career is far from over. He is a fresh thirty-six and still has a lot of fights left in him. He just needs to add a few more things to his arsenal for him to be more effective against other talented fighters.
A crisp jab would certainly be a good start.
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