With the upcoming interim heavyweight championship bout approaching on the UFC 111 card, many may be underestimating the underclassman Shane Carwin. But there's one person who isn't miscalculating his chances and that's his opponent, Frank Mir.
Carwin's road to the title shot hasn't been as long as one might expect, but it hasn't been without its challenges either. After tearing through Christian Wellisch and Neil Wain, he met his most significant test when placed in front of Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 96.
When Carwin ate three stiff rights delivered by Gonzaga's concrete fists, Mir noticed. When Gonzaga took Carwin to the ground where he thrives and he escaped the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt's attempt to pass guard, making it back to his feet, Mir noticed that too. He also noticed what followed that take down escape-a deafening blow, which Carwin landed on Gonzaga's chin, knocking him out cold. This KO was added to his running tab, marking the sixth KO/TKO among his 11 MMA wins.
Frank Mir will certainly be Carwin's hardest test to date. Mir is also wise to not look at his opponent as a stepping stone. Both need to be on guard of each other's upsetting knock out power. A clean shot from either can easily equal lights out, a title shot down the drain.
As a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a well seasoned wrestler, Carwin can hold his own on the ground, but he'll likely depend on the power he packs behind his fists that have so far awarded him undefeated success in the UFC. Mir on the other hand holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and isn't shy about slipping in a submission, especially when he's facing an opponent that brings a high likelihood of a knock out with every blast.
With a title, be it an interim one, up for grabs and two heavy hearted fighters working for it, this is sure to be an intense match. Since Mir's heavyweight belt was stripped away for the second time not even a year ago by Brock Lesnar, he can still taste the title. He has already voiced his want for revenge on Lesnar, which he will have the chance at if he beats Carwin. He'll look to position himself one step closer to reclaiming the top spot and be the first to shut down a threatening fighter quickly making his way up the ranks of the UFC.
Carwin has played the role of underdog before, but a win over Mir will allow him to remove that cloak and gain him the respect every newcomer yearns for. Not only will he hope to sustain an untainted record, he'll also have his first opportunity as a title holder, one inch of a reach advantage away.
Who would you put your money on? Or, more importantly, who do you want to see take on Brock Lesnar this summer for the undisputed heavyweight title?
Don't miss the action as it unfolds on March 27! And if you haven't heard yet, Rachelle Leah will be back in the Octagon that night, making the already sick match-ups that much sweeter. Oh c'mon, you know you were thinking it.