Although he had several offers on the table, former UFC interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin on Thursday unveiled that he would be headed to Japan for his return to mixed martial arts competition.
It’s been more than five years since Carwin last fought, having lost back-to-back bouts to Junior dos Santos and Brock Lesnar in the UFC’s Octagon before retiring.
Recently deciding to make a comeback, the 41-year-old quickly determined that returning to the UFC was not an option.
Carwin had accepted an offer from a Russian promotion to return in a fight with Fedor Emelianenko, but the former Pride FC champion declined. There were also offers from the likes of Bellator, which Carwin characterized as “the best offer” in terms of money.
After all his evaluations, however, Carwin and his team determined that Rizin FF was the best fit for him.
“I had better offers from a money stand point. Bellator made the best offer,” Carwin explained in a post on Reddit. “It just was not entirely clear that they wanted me as much as I wanted them to want me.
“I made an agreement to fight Fedor, but he did not agree. I have been told by several matchmakers that that fight is a unicorn and they do not see Fedor taking it. Maybe I can just go help him train for the next one. Still a fan! He is still (the greatest heavyweight of all time) to me.”
In deciding to choose Rizin, Carwin referenced his love of the Pride FC days in Japan and his belief that Rizin embraces an atmosphere and ideals that he finds critical. Even more importantly, they expressed a strong desire to have Carwin in the fold.
“I told Rizin no a few times and they stayed with me. Came to visit. Understood my values and what is important to me. Seemed to share the same values,” said Carwin. “I left the meeting wanting to be a part of Rizin. Feeling as if they wanted me.
“So on Dec. 29, it begins.”
Carwin is expected to participate in the Rizin World Grand-Prix 2016, which already includes fighters such as Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Wanderlei Silva. Carwin will be a significant addition to the tournament.