Yesterday, Shane Carwin decided to retire at age 38. Though he achieved an interim title in the heavyweight division, you have to imagine that if Carwin had made MMA his main career, he could have achieved more in the sport. He hit incredibly hard but as Junior Dos Santos showed, he never developed the nuanced boxing attack. When he face top competition like Lesnar and Dos Santos, he faltered.
Carwin also missed the boat on his full potential due to injuries. There would some who thought he could have made himself into a late round draft pick in the NFL but he was derailed by injuries. Carwin’s injury-prone body proved to be his downfall.
His wrestling was enough that he was able to stand with most heavyweights. After winning all of his UFC fights within the first frame, he was propelled to a title shot. His best wins were over Gabriel Gonzaga and Frank Mir. That’s not exactly a murderer’s row but he also damn near beat Brock Lesnar into a bloody pulp. If not for some fine refereeing by referee Josh Rosenthal (which I thought was warranted), Carwin might have been the UFC heavyweight champion.
If Carwin had focused on MMA rather than being both an engineer and a professional fighter, he might have been a special heavyweight. His boxing was good but he relied too much on power and not enough on technique. Junior Dos Santos showed Carwin what true boxing prowess looked like. But with an good chin, a wrestling base, and one punch knockout power, Carwin could really have developed into a dominant sprawl and brawler a lot like Chuck Liddell. Instead he will be remembered as a good, but flawed heavyweight who had a relatively short career in the UFC.