As Shane Carwin pounded away at the head of Frank Mir with vicious left uppercuts at UFC 111 last March, it quickly became apparent who was next in line to face UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
Mir crumpled to the ground as Carwin’s onslaught continued, leaving referee Dan Miragliotta no choice but to step in and end the fight.
Carwin had the interim championship wrapped around his waist as he gave his post fight interview, and afterwards the reigning champ stepped into the cage. “He’s still wearing a belt that’s a make believe belt,” Lesnar scoffed at Carwin.
At UFC 116, the 265-pounders will square off in one of the biggest fights in the history of the UFC -- literally -- and get a chance to prove just who the most dominant heavyweight in the promotion is.
The fight picks up some extra steam toward deciding who’s the best heavyweight in the world after a loss on Saturday night by the man almost universally regarded as the best heavyweight ever - Fedor Emelianenko.
Lesnar, who mockingly called Fedor the “greatest champion ever of all times in his own little world” when asked about him on a conference call promoting UFC 116, was also asked whether he could beat Emelianenko and replied, “Absolutely, I can beat anybody.”
To beat Carwin - an undefeated fighter who has finished all 12 of his opponents in the first round - Lesnar will have to be on top of his game and shake off any ring rust he may have acquired in the nearly full year since his last fight at UFC 100. He came down with diverticulitis during his training camp for the original fight which was supposed to take place in October.
“I waited until the very last minute (to pull out), until I realized one morning I couldn’t get out of bed to go train,” he said. “Ever since then, I didn’t even know if I was going to fight again from October through January, everything was kind of up in the air. This is kind of like my second coming. It’s brought a lot of life into me and my training camp and I’m just excited to be a part of this once again.”
Although he changed his diet and brought in a new strength and conditioning coach, Lesnar made it clear that one thing did not change. “I’m still the same ornery SOB I’ve always been,” he said.
From the moment Lesnar stepped into the octagon to face Frank Mir in his first ever UFC fight, there’s been lots of hype and pressure. Although Carwin beat a former champ in Mir last time out, he still hasn’t faced the pressure of main-eventing a pay per view and fighting for the undisputed championship.
“Every fight is your biggest fight and this is definitely the biggest fight of my career,” he said. “I’m excited about it.”
Lesnar was not about to let the fact that he has more main event experience - both in the UFC and the WWE - deter him from training as hard.
“I took a different route,” he said. “I got thrown to the wolves right away where Shane’s been able to get out and cut his teeth a little bit.”
Not that anything besides a life-threatening illness would be able to slow down Brock Lesnar in the gym or in the cage.
“I’m just excited to get back in the octagon,” he said. “I don’t give a damn who it is, I’m just excited to fight.”