Former Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin has not had a fight since he lost to current Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos, by decision last year. This past November he underwent surgery for neck, back and nerve problems. The surgery took 4 four hours and required drilling into Carwin's skull as part of the process that repaired nerve damage and problems with his spine. On top of that, he was not allowed to train again until February.
I caught up with Carwin in January he was getting ready to make his return to the Octagon, and said that he was feeling better than ever. When talking gyms, training and life in our area of the country he made a joke about taking so many hits to the head affecting his memory that he was thinking of changing his nickname from "Engineer" to the "Janitor".
When I asked him when we would see him in the UFC again, he told me then, "Hopefully by this Summer."
"This Summer" may turn out to be "this Fall". On his personal website Carwin recently blogged: "I informed UFC Matchmaker (Joe Silva) that I would like to fight in Early Fall 2012. I would like to be able to fight every three or four months. Barring injury I intend to leave the UFC octagon and head back to the Grudge Training Center to continue the climb. I have spent my entire career dealing with injuries sustained through Football. I am 100% and I feel like a younger version of my former self. The UFC should look into adding some padding in the gloves because I plan on crushing my opponents."
Although he had a strong wrestling background, Carwin became known for his heavy hands. When we talked boxing, I asked him what size glove he wore. He said: "I have to have them custom-made, but they would be about a 5X if they made that size."
Those club-sized fists gave Carwin 4 straight wins in the UFC by KO/TKO and brought him the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship. By the time he haced Brock Lesnar in his 13th professional fight, Carwin had never made it past the first round in any of his fights. His mantra was: "You must throw each punch with bad intent."
On this he wrote: "My entire career is shorter then some Pride Fights. I have somehow managed to contend for the UFC HW Title with less than an hour of actual fighting. On one hand that is amazing on the other it kind of scary to think I am facing seasoned veterans with limited experience. Talk about swimming with the sharks. The time off has allowed me to focus on me. Work on the fundamentals of the sport and improve. Maybe most important, to fall in love with the sport again.
"No one ever 'wants' or 'needs' back surgery but I did 'need' the time to improve my skills. Being a good wrestler with heavy hands is only a fraction of skills needed to become a World Champion. I am certain when I come back you will see a more diverse and hungry fighter. I will not be worried about my extra pounds causing cardio problems, and I will not stumble on the way up this mountain top. You are going to see the Old Shane with new and improved skills fighting because it's what I love to do."
A week after UFC 146, Heavyweight fans had to wonder what that card would look like with Carwin on it. According to Carwin, he was told by Joe Silva that Carwin's next opponent was on that card.