The battle of the MMA behemoths was everything fans hoped for and more. Brute power was on display, but in the end the better conditioned athlete with better technique pulled off a great comeback victory. There's no way that people thought Brock Lesnar, with only five fights under his belt and carrying massive muscle on his frame, would be the guy to pen that story, but he did.
Lesnar survived a vicious first-round onslaught as Carwin wailed away on him for over three minutes. But Lesnar bounced back, scored a big takedown in the second round and latched on an arm-triangle choke for the submission victory. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Lesnar retained his UFC heavyweight title with the win at 2:19 of the second round in the main event at UFC 116.
There was no angry rage following the win or nasty gesturing toward the crowd. Lesnar beamed and soaked in the moment, even giving a huge hug to UFC president Dana White.
"This isn't about me tonight," said Lesnar. "This is about my family. This is about my doctors. This about my training partners, my training staff. I am blessed by God. Ladies and gentleman, I stand before you a humble champion."
Don't worry, a little of the WWE Brock seeped through, too.
"And I'm still the toughest SOB around, baby," Lesnar said.
It was Lesnar's first fight back after a year away from the Octagon. His career and life was in jeopardy at the end of 2009, when he was a diagnosed with diverticulitis. A hole in his intestine was leaking fluid into his system, essentially weakening and poisoning his body. Lesnar was facing the possibility of serious surgery, having to wear a colostomy bag, being away from the sport for two years and maybe even retirement.
Lesnar, who only began training MMA in 2007 after a lengthy career in pro wrestling, is still scratching the surface of his potential. But he shows off new, impressive elements each time he fights. This was the first time Lesnar locked horns with a guy just as strong as him, and he responded by showing amazing toughness.
The 6-2, 265-pound Carwin landed a big left uppercut two minutes into the fight that had Lesnar on his horse. He backed up, covered up and eventually hit the deck. On the ground, Carwin pounded away with 40-plus shots as Lesnar did little to improve his position, though he was trying to cover up. Referee Josh Rosenthal did a brilliant job of not freaking out, but he was also watching closely to see if Lesnar took a shot that put him out. It never came because Carwin got tired and his punches had less force along the way.
"I just had to weather the storm," said Lesnar. "He's got some heavy shots. I just had to hang back. I knew he was getting tired. Each shot he threw was less dramatic than the last."
Lesnar made it through the round, and it was clear on the stool between rounds that Carwin was out of it. He was breathing heavy and barely responding to his corner's instructions. When he came out for the second round, he was a different fighter. He was stationary and was not letting hands go. Lesnar charged him and scored an easy takedown. He was immediately in half guard and it took less than a minute for Lesnar to score the mount. From there, he began to work a choke on Carwin's head. Lesnar showed patience and good technique as he switched to side control and really locked it on. Carwin survived for roughly 45 seconds, but then had to tap.
"I thought I had enough space to breath," said Carwin. "But he sunk it on tighter and I was going out."
Carwin (12-1, 5-1 UFC) was angry that he blew this shot at the title and taking out a guy who's looking tougher each time out.
"Brock's a tough son of a bitch," said Carwin. "I [expletive] tightened up. My hat's off to him. He's [expletive] champion. I fell down the mountain but I'll climb back up."