With the addition of UFC stalwarts Antonio Nogueira, Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin to the undercard of the historic matchup between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin, UFC 106 is now shaping up to be more stacked than a corseted Dolly Parton in her glory days. Can you say Dana goes bongo?! Yes folks, for a change the UFC is pulling out all the stops and putting all its nutsacks in the same bag. The Antonio Nogueira/Luis Cane fight, originally the headliner for UFC 105, would have single-handedly been a worthy undercard of UFC 106, were it not for the return to the octagon of Tito “The Huntington Bad Boy” Ortiz.
So barring an act of God or Nature, the Mandalay Bay will, come November 18, 2009, be seeing one of the biggest fight in UFC history shored up by two great undercards: Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira who will be fighting Luis Cane and Tito Ortiz(16-6-1) who will be fighting Forrest Griffin (16-6-0). Griffin, who will be hunting for some kind of redemption after a disastrous, no make that humiliating showing against Anderson “The Spider” Silva in UFC 101. He suddenly replaced UFC hall of famer, Mark Coleman for reasons that are not quite clear.
UFC 106 couldn’t have come sooner, because the few match-ups following UFC 100 have been darn unremarkable. Filling gaps between major fights with lackluster cards does little for the sport and nothing for the fans. And talking about which, UFC 104 with Machida vs Rua will just be another celebrated back-room brawl between Brazilian goombahs. And if you want a good measure of just how unexciting this fight is, check the Google search results and rankings for the “Machida vs Rua” fight. It’s relatively underwhelming for a fight that is only 14 days away. This fight is falling through the cracks to some kind of mental dead zone for reasons elaborated in Why UFC 104 with Machida vs Jackson would have eclipsed UFC 100. (Tsk tsk! to Dan White for not sticking to the original Machida/Quinton Jackson commitment; the same he announced following UFC 98. The fight would have wowed the fans and made major bank for him and the Fertitta Brothers. And now in retrospect, diverting Quinton Jackson from the Machida-Jackson fight may have been a major boo-boo in light of what Jackson is now saying in the wake of his resignation from the UFC.)
The little Machida/Rua sideshow will only be notable if Machida cements his new-fangled fame as the New Karate Kid writ large. If he loses, oh well, so much for piss toddies, cat-paw strikes and the most nimble Ginger Rogers routine ever since that famous redhead, “pas de deuxed” backwards into history with Fred Astaire in tow. But we digress as usual.
Shane Carwin (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) is a hulking cyborg who demolishes opponents with techno-tronic precision. In UFC 106 (now rescheduled as UFC 116) he is slated to face Brock Lesnar (4-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) another certifiable cyborg who overwhelms his opponents with size, speed and ground and pound strength that make his opponents feel like sub-compacts in the jaws of a metal compactor. Which brings us to the significance of this fight – a pivotal sequel in the Brock Lesnar story. Note we are not saying anything about Shane Carwin at this point – because he is not gonna win this fight. Lesnar will. And not necessarily in spectacular fashion – but win The Brock will. (We will break down the rationale as the match approaches.) Those looking for an exciting fight will most probably be disappointed. Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin fights are thrilling in the same way that monster truck derbies are. Even the official Lesnar/Carwin promo video fails to rise up the pyrotechnic standard of UFC promo videos because there is little to work with for starters. You cannot manufacture technical brilliance like a video game programmer. Lesnar dusting off Mir on the ground looks like a carpenter trying to batten down a hatch. Brock Lesnar’s mystique has more to do with his freakish chops and Shane Carwin’s record, with the exception of Gabriel Gonzaga, has been built on fighters who have been less than stellar in heavyweight pugilism. His ground game has sometimes been as exciting as a psych orderly trying to strap down an unruly patient.
But with Brock Lesnar versus Shawn Carwin, UFC may be taking a practical step towards sensible match-ups in a situation that is crying for as a first step in the right direction by an organization that needs more rationality in the heavyweight division. Beyond this, it is the next biggest fight in a line-up of cards that have lacked real heft – the Lesnar-Mir showdown excepted with lots of reservations.
Shane Carwin has the sangfroid of a Zen Master. On a personal level he is gonna be a winner going in and out of this fight, but that precludes the unified belt that he and Brock Lesnar are gonna be fighting for. Good guys don’t always finish first and this, unfortunately, is gonna apply to Shane in this case …. unless he gets lucky with that short right hand (as he did in the case of Gonzaga and Wellisch.) He may well get lucky because Lesnar may try to go toe to toe with Carwin in a winner-takes-it-all bang-fest – at least in the opening encounter. (We would be seriously surprised if Lesnar tried to shoot without exchanging some blows first. Reason? Every ground and pound hog longs to grow some stand-up hairs on their balls. )
So the first round will probably see two hulking heavyweights not renowned for boxing chops trying to go toe to toe like prize fighters of the World Boxing Association. Lesnar is not known for his knockout power probably because of lack of technique and precision, but he has been known to knock goombahs down like bowling pins. Such is the raw power of the former South Dakota farm boy.
“He’s a baby. Don’t kick him because he’ll get hurt. He’s a hell of a wrestler man, the guy can wrestle and he’s strong, but he can’t punch and he can’t get kicked. And he don’t know how to kick. He can only go straight forward.” (Loud-mouth, Tim Sylvia on ESPN Radio)
Anything can happen in a stand-up lollapalooza, including the knockout of Carwin by a lucky shot from Lesnar. And if anyone could test Lesnar’s chin at this point, it would have to be Carwin. The question is can Carwin overcome the 3-inch reach deficit and Lesnar’s own elusive antsyness to land the big one that will fell Brock the Giant (which would make Shane the Giant Killer)? It is possible but highly unlikely. Lesnar, who has never been really, really rocked on tape, is gonna be extra antsy and careful going into this one. (Watch Lesnar’s antsy footwork.) As a matter of fact the caution may be such that the two pachyderms will be roundly booed in the first round before finally deciding to lock trunks under crowd duress.
Both are strong, but Lesnar has the edge in the raw strength/power department. Even the size and muscularity differential is visually persuasive. Some fans/analysts even argue that Lesnar may be stronger in the upper body arena than Carwin. So the strength/power advantage, especially on the ground, goes to Lesnar …. hence our prediction and the trending odds.
The Odds, The Odds, The Odds!: The Bookers, the fans & the collective ear pressed flush against the ground
The odds are trending towards our prediction at about 68 to 32% for Lesnar. Love him or hate him, these are the numbers which may change with time, but we doubt that they will fluctuate by much. The moneyline odds are as follows:
Brock Lesnar -215 (This means that for every $215 you bet, you stand to win $1oo if Brock Lesnar wins. This makes Brock Lesnar the favorite. You are betting or risking more than you stand to win.)
Shane Carwin +175 (This means for every $100 you bet, you stand to win $175 if Carwin wins. This makes Carwin the underdog. You are betting or risking less than you stand to win. The catch is the likeliness of your guy winning though.)
You can convert any moneyline of the Lesnar/Carwin odds to the 68/32 % probability at the Money Line Converter here.
Beyond the booking halls, no substantive cross section of fans is giving this fight to Carwin overall. Trust the unbiased collective wisdom here and if you are gonna bet, don’t bet the family farm or wedding ring against Lesnar.
The Factors: Motivation
Brock Lesnar has way more to lose in this fight than Shane Carwin because of his higher profile, title and his decision to play the heel in an organization that has never celebrated such. If Shane loses, he falls back on his mining job and engineering degree. The same cannot be said of Lesnar. If Lesnar loses his heavyweight belt in UFC 106, he would have lost something even more precious than money; his sheen of invincibility and mantle of manifest destiny in the UFC. We at Cyberaxis seriously doubt that Lesnar would be content with being just another lumbering hack fighting in the heavyweight division after what he did at UFC 100: namely flipping everybody off. Psychologically this created a different dynamic between him and MMA fandom. This dynamic is why the home crowd effect, is for better or worse a big factor in the outcome of the games. The halting steps Lesnar took in his first fights were cemented in UFC 100. The newest boy on the MMA block had shown signs of wanting to court MMA. However with UFC 100, he slammed the door to that and became an unabashed heel with foam dripping out of his mouth. That was a momentous turn that some dismissed as a predetermined plot line. It was not. With proper guidance, Brock Lesnar could have blazed a different path in MMA – and one which could have been easier for him, mentally, emotionally, and perhaps financially in the long run.
The other reason Brock Lesnar has more to lose has to do with how or when he left pro wrestling. In case you have forgotten, Lesnar left WWE pro wrestling at a time he was poised to be the next big thing in McMahon’s stable. Did he get a pay cut? You bet. And for a pipe dream that was far from guaranteed. So when Lesnar takes to the octagon on November 11, (now July 3rd, 2010) he will be fighting for more than his reputation. Not so the behemoth from Boulder.
The Chin Factor
We know a little about the chin of Carwin because he got tested by someone who knows a little about knocking hombres out. (See the Carwin vs Gonzaga here.)
Not so much the Monster from Minnesota. Noone inside or outside the UFC has ever tested the chin of Brock Lesnar (at least as far as we know.) Noone with the right critical mass that is, because it takes a substantive amount of critical mass to breach Lesnar’s size, frenzied defence and 81″ reach – which is one of the things that stumped Randy Couture when they met in UFC 91. If anyone can do it this time, it would have to be Shane Carwin because he has the critical mass (262lbs to Brock Lesnar’s regulation 265lbs) even though Carwin’s reach, at 78″, falls 3 inches short of Lesnar’s. The reach advantage is not insurmountable for a guy who has the strength, critical mass and knockout chops of Shane Carwin. What this says is that when all other things are held fairly constant, size does indeed matter, and Shane does indeed have it. The question is; will he be able to penetrate Lesnar’s offensive and evasive defense? (Watch Lesnar’s antsy foot work and tell us if he is gonna be an easy target to hit – his size notwithstanding.)
Stay tuned for more thoughts as the fight draws near.
Dolly Parton, UFC 106 and Bongo Boobs
Dana White targeting UFC 116 for Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin title-unification bout (Dan Stupp, MMA Junkie)
How to bet on UFC fights (MMA Betting Blog)
Moneyline Converter (Online Gambling Network)
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