by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It’s no secret that mixed martial arts’ heavyweight division needs a shot in the arm.
Over the past year there’s been a lack of consistency at the highest level of the weight class, as well many of the young prospects of the division haven’t panned-out as it appeared they once might.
Even the two brightest spots in the division seem less likely to resurrect it anytime soon, as former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko has seen only one fight so far in 2007, and Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Randy Couture is currently sidelined, unclear of where he may be resuming his fighting career… if he does so at all.
So where could the much needed injection of life come to the ailing heavyweight division?
Enter Colorado wrecking machine Shane “Monster” Carwin.
Standing 6’4″ and weighing 265 pounds of pure muscle, Carwin, a former NCAA Division II National Wrestling Champion, is an imposing figure who not only looks every bit the part of monstrous fighter, but also delivers when the bell rings.
So far in eight fights, he is undefeated and hasn’t gone out of the first round, dominating opponents with a relentless aggression that’s sorely missing in the current heavyweight division’s landscape.
Carwin’s skills were on display at the most recent Ring of Fire show in Colorado on Dec. 1, where he quickly dispatched former UFC fighter Sherman Pendergarst in just over a minute-and-a-half, claiming the Ring of Fire heavyweight championship in the process.
“It felt great,” exclaimed Carwin of his win last Saturday. “I put a lot of training and effort (into the fight).
“To win over a quality opponent in Sherman, and get the belt for Ring of Fire in my first championship opportunity felt awesome.”
His most recent victory is his third in a row this year after spending nearly 15 months on the shelf due to injury.
Carwin is quick to give credit to the team he surrounds himself with as the reason he’s been able to come back stronger than ever and defeat increasingly difficult opposition.
“I’ll tell you what, down at T’s K.O. (Fight Club) and High Altitude (Martial Arts), with all the guys down there, I’ve evolved as a fighter with all those guys with the training I’m getting and it’s definitely showing up in the cage,” he explained.
With quality wins over the likes of Pendergarst and Strikeforce standout Rex Richards this year, it might not be long before he gets his opportunity to face off against some of the top competition on the national stage.
“I want to move into those upper shows and go against some of those top guys, just to see where my game’s at,” said Carwin. “I thrive on competition and I absolutely love the sport and have a passion for it; I have a passion to be in the cage.”
As for what he feels he could bring to next level, he feels he can deliver what the fans want to see the most, excitement.
“I think people want to see heavyweights that are big, but also athletic,” commented Carwin. “I think I can bring some consistency and athleticism (to the heavyweight division).
“I’m definitely not looking to lay and pray. When I get on top, it’s definitely a punishing attack with my ground and pound and the same thing with throwing knees, elbows, strikes – I tend to smother my guy at all times and not give them time to breath and react.”
As he explains, with the work he’s put in with the likes of Nate Marquardt and Christian Allen on his jiu-jitsu, as well as his boxing development under Trevor Wittman, coupled with his already immense wrestling skills, the best fighters in the weight class aren’t far out of his reach.
“I feel I can compete in that top level with those top-tier guys,” commented Carwin. “I’m excited for my chance to get those shots when they come.”
And those shots that he wants could come much sooner than later if he continues on his current rampage through the heavyweight division as he heads into 2008.
“I just would like to thank Hard Nutrition,” concluded Carwin. “They’ve been with me from the beginning, and they’re not just a sponsor, but their supplements are phenomenal and that’s what I take.
“Hopefully there’s big things coming for me in 2008 and I’ll be seen in the national spotlight. I definitely hope to keep the fights exciting.”