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UFC 116 Preview: Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin

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Looking more like an action figure come to life than a professional fighter, Brock Lesnar has captured the imagination of most fight fans, bringing much more attention to the sport of MMA than it previously enjoyed. While there were occasionally American pro wrestlers that have tried their hand at the sport of MMA in the past, Lesnar has easily eclipsed their achievement. Part of the reason for this is that he is a man that was groomed to compete. After an exceptional high school wrestling career, Brock rose to prominence as an elite collegiate wrestler. He won a national championship in Junior College, then went on to win multiple Big Ten championships and a national championship. In addition to having a stellar wrestling pedigree, Lesnar possesses amazing strength, punching power and explosiveness. It wasn't long ago that Lesnar's future was in doubt. A bout with diverticulitis last year left his life, and career, in jeopardy. Thankfully, he made a full recovery and is even now back to his fighting weight and, according to his camp, in great shape. But a year long layoff is usually tough for a fighter to bounce back from so it will be interesting to see how sharp the champion looks on Saturday night. Brock Lesnar has a 4-1 professional record with two wins coming by way of knockout and one win coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far in his career is 70.8%.

There is still a lot that we don't know about Shane Carwin. What we do know is this: He has not needed much time to finish off the dozen opponents that have stepped into the cage with him thus far. Carwin has yet to be pushed past the first round in MMA competition. In fact, his last opponent, former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir, is the fighter that has lasted the longest against Carwin yet (almost 3:50 into the 1st round). Although he may not possess the same wrestling credentials as Lesnar, Carwin was a Division 2 national wrestling champion and multiple time All-American. Will he be able to overcome Lesnar's stronger wrestling skill set and ferocity? Will he be able to time Brock and catch him with some shots when Lesnar inevitably tries to shoot in? We'll soon find out. As big and hard hitting as these two heavyweights are, I'd be surprised if Shane Carwin's streak of avoiding the second round wasn't still intact on Sunday, win or lose. Shane Carwin has a 12-0 professional record with seven wins coming by way of knockout and five wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far in his career is 56.1%.

Fans and columnists can talk ad nauseam about Emelianenko's first round loss last weekend and what it means for the heavyweight landscape, but at the end of the day I'm willing to bet that it's not a major concern to either of the two fighters competing in Las Vegas this weekend. Internet message board and office chatter is great to spur on interest in the sport but fighters tend to focus in on one thing: winning the next fight. That's what matters and it's that kind of tunnel vision that can help a fighter focus in on giving his all to overcoming the next challenge. On Saturday night, for a brief amount of time at least, it won't matter what wrestling accolades or what MMA victories Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin have achieved. All that matters is this: Who will have their hand raised at the end of the fight? My prediction: If I had to guess I'd say that Lesnar will likely get the fight to the ground and work some nice ground and pound to hand Carwin his first career loss. Anything can happen in this one, though. Enjoy.