by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” – Muhammed Ali
Hard training has become an essential part of every MMA fighter’s life, but when a title is on the line – in possibly the biggest heavyweight fight in years – the training camp becomes even more integral to the ultimate outcome of victory or defeat.
For UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and interim champion Shane Carwin, the training for their fight at UFC 116 is upped even more simply because this is the first time the two colossal heavyweights have ever faced an opponent of equal size and strength. The massive fighters both generally cut weight to make the 265-pound heavyweight limit, and possess some of the scariest power in the heavyweight world.
Following his recovery from diverticulitis, Lesnar says he’s thankful just to be able to get back in the gym to prepare for a fight, but he left nothing to chance when preparing for Carwin, working with some of the best in the business.
“My camp is full of big guys,” said Lesnar. “I’ve got Cole Konrad who’s a two-time NCAA champion, Chris Tuchscherer who’s a runner-up Division II champion, Jon Madsen who’s a national champion in Division II, Marty Morgan. I recently had Randy Couture in my camp. So I’ve been surrounded by greatness I believe.”
Couture added a great deal to Lesnar’s camp, as did famed boxing coach Peter Welch, who the champion brought in to mold and improve his boxing game. With Carwin’s unreal knockout power and tremendous wrestling background, Lesnar left nothing to chance.
“I brought some different things to the table,” Lesnar commented about his training camp. “I got a new strength and conditioning coach. I brought in Peter Welch, a new boxing coach that I’ve been working with since January and we kind of just, when I pulled the pin on this fight last October, I really regrouped and kind of rejuvenated myself. So I took a new approach on it as far as training and everything. It’s been very refreshing and I’ve really came leaps and bounds.”
While Lesnar has brought in some of the best training partners and coaches to Minnesota to get him ready, Carwin’s camp at the Grudge Training Center in Colorado is already home to several top fighters in the sport and a world class coaching staff.
Leading the way is striking and MMA coach Trevor Wittman, who has been a mainstay of the fight world for many years, working with fighters like Nate Marquardt, Rashad Evans, Eliot Marshall, and Duane “Bang” Ludwig. Add to that the final touches of the strategy and coaching added by MMA guru Greg Jackson, and the team preparing Carwin is second to none.
The longtime Colorado fighter didn’t slack when it came to training with the best fighters either, as he prepared for the biggest fight of his career against Brock Lesnar.
“Brock’s a big, talented, athletic heavyweight, and those are rare to find,” said Carwin. “I’m fortunate enough to have a couple of those around and to be able to work with those guys. Those are the ones that push you to the limits.
“And that’s why this is going to be such a great fight is when two great, big heavyweights that are athletic and believe in themselves get in there and they each know that they’re going to win, these are the great fights and these are the ones that you remember.”
Carwin’s camp has included the likes of fellow UFC fighter Brendan Schaub, former “Ultimate Fighter” contender Demico Rogers, and UFC and Pride veteran Ron Waterman. While the focus for much of the training has been to get ready for a fighter of equal size, Carwin doesn’t discount the work he’s done with smaller fighters like Rashad Evans and Jon Jones.
“When you go with the smaller guys, the 205s and even a couple of middleweights, they bring speed and footwork and you try to match that as a heavyweight. It’s good just to look at aspects from all different fighters and give different looks,” Carwin stated.
Undoubtedly, Lesnar and Carwin both pulled out all the stops to get ready for this fight. When they square off on July 3 it will show that the training has paid off, then it’s just a matter of who the better fighter is that night.