by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
They don’t make them quite like “Mr. International” Shonie Carter anymore. In an age where fighters are kept out of organizations because they lack personality, Carter is the personification of personality and as much an entertainer as he is a fighter.
Having been at the fight game for many years, Carter has seen it all, done it all, and been everywhere a fighter could possibly have. Yet at only 33-years-old, many consider him to be an “old man” and perhaps past his prime, but if Carter had his say, there would be no such talk at all.
Consider the fact that Shonie’s amassed possibly the most wins this side of Jeremy Horn and that he is still victorious far more than he falls in defeat, it could be unfair to think he’s in the twilight of his career. At the upcoming WEC 18 show on Friday, January 13th, Carter hopes to take a step back towards the big staged of MMA with a win in his WEC Welterweight Championship match against Mike Pyle.
There are few fighters in the world as experienced as Carter is. Having fought numerous times in MMA, Kickboxing and Shidokan Karate events, Carter’s well-rounded style has kept him winning since his days at the Tropicana D’Cache Club Fights circuit.
Over the course of his career Shonie has fought at nearly every weight class in just about every organization and country that fights can be held. From the Extreme Challenge in the Midwest USA to Pancrase in Japan and everywhere in between, including multiple stints in the UFC, Carter has gone up against the best fighters from all over the world and uses that to his advantage.
To say Carter is a crafty veteran would be an understatement. He knows all the tricks and has seen everything anyone can possibly throw at him. This is of course his biggest advantage. Fighters not as experienced as Shonie often try to overpower him or outmaneuver him with speed, but most of the time it doesn’t work. He knows how to move in a cage or ring; he knows how to neutralize pure strength and speed with little shifts in movement and position.
Much like a veteran pocket-passing quarterback in the NFL, Carter’s footwork under pressure keeps him out of a lot of trouble against opposition that may have more mobility than he does. Combine that with a very open and at time unorthodox style of striking, and standing with Carter can be frustrating and make anyone look bad, influencing judges as well as the crowd.
While primarily known for his striking, Carter is also a very skilled ground fighter. Having fought everywhere against every style of fighter, he’s learned how to keep his body in the proper position to gain leverage against larger opponents who look to ground ‘n pound. He’s also skilled enough to stay out of submission attempts and has been so rarely caught in them that it’s almost a waste of time to try and work them against him.
For all his skill though Carter can be beaten. He can let his natural showmanship get the better of him and open him up to no-nonsense fighters who come directly at him and cut off routes of escape. He also has a tendency to get complacent in fights and not work as hard as he could and can be repetitive with attacks, leaving him open to counters.
This could be key against Mike Pyle in their bout this coming Friday. Mike trains at the UFC Training Center with the likes of Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin and Jay Heiron, all of which speak his praises in droves about his skill. If Shonie does not stay busy against the hungrier Pyle, he could find himself quickly down on the scorecards and in need of a KO or submission to win.
Not used to being the fighter who puts on the pressure that could again open up Carter to mistakes that Pyle can exploit. Shonie must stay busy but not over exert himself, if he can do that, he can win the stand-up portion of the fight. On the ground it could be business as usual for Carter.
While all of Pyle’s wins have come via submission, he’s never faced anyone like Shonie who has seen every type of submission that could be thrown at him. Many fighters have worked hard to hold position or a submission on Carter to only end up wasting time before they realize he can’t be finessed or powered into tapping out. Should Carter keep Mike at bay on the ground he could rest up and be aggressive should Pyle tires.
Should Shonie win this fight he could put himself back into a good position to make a return to big stages in the US and overseas. A win over a highly regarded up and coming fighter like Pyle could be just the thing Carter needs to prove naysayers wrong that he’s just a journeyman gate keeper. A loss and Shonie could be spending his remaining fighting days still traveling the world, but in smaller shows where he can’t get make one last major title run.
Shonie Carter is out to prove he is still indeed “Mr. International,” the showman, the larger than life fighter who stands out amongst the pack. A win over Pyle could go a long way in proving he still has what it takes to compete at the highest levels of MMA and again put another belt around his waist. Carter is truly a one-of-a-kind fighter, and if he has his way, he’ll once again find himself on PPV, where he shines the brightest and where he’s not just part of the show, he is the show.