Mailbag: Did Carwin get robbed?

You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI

UFC 116 was one of the most action-packed mixed martial arts cards in a long time. Brock Lesnar’s ability to survive the first-round assault from Shane Carwin was an amazing capper to a stirring night of fights.

The mailbag is full of questions about Lesnar’s victory, his future and the status of the heavyweight division.

Before we get to your questions and comments, and my answers, let me remind you that I’m on vacation. I’ll be back to work on July 19, but keep checking the Yahoo! Sports MMA page because Dave Meltzer, Dave Doyle and the Cagewriter crew will keep it filled with great content.

And now, without further adieu, let’s get to the current edition of the MMA mailbag.

Right on the money

Shane Carwin (right) couldn't keep up with Brock Lesnar in Round 2.
(Eric Jamison/AP Photo)

I agree 100 percent that UFC 116 was a night of some of the most awesome, action-packed fights I’ve seen in a long time. From preliminary card fights to main card action, the fighters went to war. Classic. As heart-breaking as it was to see my favorite guy, Shane Carwin, go down in defeat, the pain began to quickly subside when I witnessed the excellent display of sportsmanship, humility and true class on the part of heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. He truly has matured, as a mixed martial artist and a man, over the past year. If I’m not careful, he just might make a fan out of me.

Dutch Martin
Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

The less Brock trots out his WWE alter ego, the more fans it seems to make him, Dutch. But I think he’ll make just as many new fans from the way he overcame adversity, both in his personal life and, of course, in the first round against Carwin.

Shane was robbed

This fight was B.S. Brock was out of the fight right after he went down. If you watch the replays, you will see Brock tapping on Carwin’s chest while he was getting hit with those bombs. I think referee Josh Rosenthal cost Carwin the fight because Brock was not defending himself as a fighter should and took so much more damage in that one round than in all of his fights. I say this not only as a fan but an MMA amateur fighter.

Jerry
Louisville, Ky.

I think you’re saying it as a fan and nothing else, Jerry. Everyone was waiting for Rosenthal to jump in, but he had the best view and he could tell what was going on better than anyone. Lesnar said Carwin’s punches were losing steam as he went along, which is borne out by Shane’s comments on his blog after the fight. Carwin wrote, “When I had him in trouble the ref keep saying he was going to stop it and then my body began to seize up. In between rounds I could not move my legs and had what felt like a whole body cramp. My cardio was fine but my body was not.” It was close to being stopped, for sure, and no one could have blamed Rosenthal if he had stopped it. But Lesnar defended himself well enough that he was actually on his feet for the last minute. It was a close call, but I can’t argue with the referee’s actions. Shane certainly did not.

Shane was robbed, Part II

I truly believe Carwin was robbed of the victory. How many times beforehand have the referees stopped fights when someone turtles up in the corner of the cage for more than 10 seconds? Lesnar was down for the entire last half of the first round, getting beaten on, and most of that time his “intelligent defense” was the fetal position. I know the UFC needs a big name. UFC president Dana White can talk all he wants about how no one wants Fedor Emelianenko. However, the UFC’s top two heavyweights, Lesnar and Carwin, with Velasquez being an exception, are extremely one-dimensional fighters whose main ability is to be big at their opponents. White does a lot of trash talk about how he has the best people but when it comes to an incredibly lax non-call by the ref to prove how excellent one of them is, it does not bode well for the sport. If all it takes to win in the UFC and get them to ignore their own rules is a name, then it is a dark day for MMA in the United States.

James
Indianapolis

I’m amazed how you manage to make an exciting fight some kind of referendum on Dana White. OK, I get it, you don’t like Dana and that’s your choice. Are you suggesting, though, that there are promotions with far better talent than the UFC? The UFC has the vast majority of the top 100 fighters in the world under contract. Here’s what amazes me about your comment: Instead of giving Lesnar credit for surviving, you want to blame the referee. So that prompts me to ask, when Fedor was in so many dire situations and rebounded to win, did you do the same? Did you criticize the referee and say the fight should have been stopped? The referee’s first job is to protect the safety of the fighter. Lesnar was moving enough and turtling enough that Rosenthal knew he still had his wits about him. He also could see Carwin visibly tiring. This wasn’t a dark day for MMA. This was one of its brightest days ever.

Best heavyweight

Do you think that this was Lesnar’s best performance ever? It’s funny, because I had been telling people that I felt that Lesnar’s chin was questionable and that he was tailor-made for someone with Carwin’s power. Boy, was I wrong! I replayed the fight several times and I still can’t believe he didn’t get knocked out. At one point, he was on the ground and took an elbow which I think would have broken a two-by-four. How on Earth did he survive that? For the first time ever, I truly feel that Brock is the best heavyweight in the world. Even though he clearly lost the majority of the fight and would have likely lost if Carwin had better cardio, to survive an onslaught like that is incredible.

John Lewis
Phoenix

I agree with you. When you’re fighting at the highest level, the opponents are good, too, and sometimes you’re going to have to survive his best assault. That’s what Lesnar did and he deserves to be regarded as the best heavyweight in the world for hanging in there and coming back to win against an elite opponent. I guarantee you this: There aren’t many, if any, other men who would have managed to have gotten out of the first round on Saturday.

How will Cain fare?

Hi Kevin. With a Brock Lesnar win over Shane Carwin at UFC 116, I suppose the next in line for a title match should be Cain Velasquez. Brock absolutely gained the respect of many for showing that he’s got such a tough skull and for being the only man to survive a first-round onslaught from Carwin. Now, if he can take that much punishment, I don’t think Cain can take him out with any sort of ground and pound, nor a shot on stand-up. I believe that in terms of raw power, Shane is in another league in comparison with Cain. I just can’t picture Cain taking Brock out. What are your thoughts on this?

Juan Pablo Guerrero
Marikina City, Philippines

Shane had an adrenaline dump or something and couldn’t finish a fight that he was on the verge of winning. I’m not sure whether to attribute that to all the nervous energy or what. I think Carwin matched best with Lesnar of all the UFC heavyweights. That said, the one thing that Velasquez has is perhaps the best stamina and cardio in the division. I think he’d have to be able to defend the takedown, pepper Brock with his kick-boxing and take it into the second half of the fight. It will be a big chore, and as of now, I’d favor Brock, but I have a world of respect for Cain and wouldn’t totally count him out.

Tone it down, Crippler

UFC 116 was easily one of the top five pay-per-view shows in MMA, but I really think Chris Leben should have toned it down after his fight. Yes, he defeated two men in two weeks, but I really don’t think he should be calling out anyone. Aaron Simpson pretty much dominated him until he gassed in the second round and I think we both agree that Akiyama probably would have edged out a decision if he didn’t get submitted. I don’t take anything away from him for winning, but it’s not like he knocked out Vitor Belfort or another top contender. If he does face Wanderlei Silva when he heals, then I expect him to lose because his style and overall game hasn’t changed for years.

Mike H.

Give the guy a break, Mike. He’s had so many problems in his personal life. He has battled hard to stay clean and got himself into great shape for Simpson. He won a big fight against a highly regarded up-and-comer, then beat Akiyama in the co-main event in one of the year’s best cards. I agree that Wanderlei would beat him, but he should be allowed to savor his accomplishment.

Jackson’s elite status in doubt?

With Carwin losing his title bid, how long do you think Greg Jackson will retain his status as the elite trainer/game-planner? Georges St. Pierre and Rashad Evans are still top notch, but his other high-profile fighters, such as Nate Marquardt, Keith Jardine (repeatedly), Joe Villasenor and Donald Cerrone have all failed in their latest fights.

Jaye
Winston-Salem, N.C.

You have to remember, Jaye, that these guys are fighting the best of the best and when you do that, you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some. If a top 10-caliber college football team plays Florida, USC, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama and LSU all the time, it’s going to lose its fair share of games. If it plays UNLV, Temple and Prairie View, they’re going to have a great record. Jackson is an elite coach, no doubt. The proof of that is how many top talents keep flocking to him. If he weren’t getting the job done, they’d leave quickly. Fighters have short careers and can’t waste a big chunk of it being handled by an incapable coach. Jackson has earned his status as one of MMA’s best.

Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Tuesday, Jul 6, 2010