Usually, when MMA fighters retire, it’s very rare that they come out of retirement to pursue a full-time career in the sport, let alone doing so at the same capacity as they had done the first time around.
The latest fighter to defy this trend is former UFC interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin. The Colorado native last fought in 2011, but is contemplating a return back to the Octagon. In his last bout, he lost a decision to former UFC heavyweight kingpin, and current top contender, Junior dos Santos.
The latest rumors flying around regarding Carwin’s future come after he did an interview with GetMoreSports.com, where he explained his sudden ambitions to get back into the fight game, specifically regarding former champion Brock Lesnar (via Bloody Elbow):
The Colorado native says he’d love to ‘beat up’ Brock in a rematch and hints at a return in the near-future.
“I am rehabbing and pretty much recovered,” Carwin told Oscar Stephens-Willis. “I am pondering a comeback. I just need the right motivation or opponent. I’d like to get the belt and retire after defending it. Or just beat up Brock again.
“I still compete with the best of them and could beat any of them.”
I’m not sure how much of what Carwin is saying is pure desire to fight or if he just wants to avenge his loss to Lesnar at UFC 116 in 2010.
Either way, it could be worth it for that first fight, at least. He can take it from there and see what his options are. The career of a fighter should be taken one fight at a time, anyway, instead of making all kinds of ambitious plans. If Carwin made this comeback happen, that mentality could definitely work in his favor.
However, in my opinion, the possibility of a Shane Carwin comeback is fairly slim. If it was going to happen, it would have happened by now. I don’t make this prediction off the top of my head, either.
First of all, the obvious reasoning right off the bat is Carwin’s age. He will be 42 next January. That’s not to say people over 40 can’t fight in MMA, and be successful… look at Dan Henderson. But to make a comeback at 41, and getting right back into the mix, is a whole different dynamic, especially when you haven’t had a fight camp in over five years.
Second, Carwin has apparently had ambitions of coming back for almost two years now, as far back as 2014, but none of that has come to fruition. Back in February, he made the possibility of a comeback seem like a reality on his own Facebook page, when he responded to a comment from one of his fans (via MMA Mania):
The 41-year-old heavyweight who held the UFC interim heavyweight title from March 27, 2010 until his defeat at the hands of Brock Lesnar on July 3, 2010, is making a possible return with a cryptic response on a Facebook comment.
For those wondering, I’m alive and well. Back on Twitter (@ShaneCarwin), The UG MixedMartialArts.com, & even reddit’s r/MMA. Apparently now I also need an Instagram, a Snapchat, a Yik Yak, three 3 hands and four cellphones to really keep up with my fans. I’m not so sure about some of those, but I wanted to let you know I will be active here on Facebook for all of you so feel free to ask questions and keep up with what’s new in 2016.
Then came this little exchange:
Once again, in 2014, he made a similar statement, but not as much of a clear proclamation. He mentioned Lesnar this time, as well (via MMA Weekly):
With his current WWE contract nearing its conclusion, there has been speculation recently that former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar might consider a return to mixed martial arts.
If that were to happen, count former interim UFC heavyweight champ Shane Carwin in for a comeback as well.
“I’m all in,” Carwin told FoxSports.com recently. “All the pain would be worth that.”[…]
“He’s not coming back,” Carwin said. “I don’t even know why he would have the desire.”[…]
Carwin believes the level of ability in MMA has grown by leaps and bounds, and Lesnar could not have come close to keeping up while plying his trade in the WWE.
“He’s not going to improve the part of his game he needs to improve in that short (amount) of time,” Carwin said. “The guys these days are too far ahead. You can’t be one-dimensional. This isn’t the early ’90s.”
If Lesnar were to come back, Carwin wants to be the one to welcome him back, but he’s not holding his breath.
Well, obviously, Carwin’s prediction that Lesnar would never come back was wrong, as he fought Mark Hunt (and was victorious) at UFC 200. He also improved his skills, getting his blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is impressive for someone who used to fight full-time and is mainly a professional wrestler now.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen with Lesnar’s future in the UFC following the event, after the USADA notified him of two failed drug tests. So Carwin, regardless of his own comeback ambitions, will most likely have to wait for his former heavyweight foe for a while.
Ultimately, any fighter has the capability to get back into the fight game, if they are really motivated and ready to get back into that lifestyle. With someone like Carwin, who hasn’t fought in so long, and is over 40, it will be tough. The one thing he has going for him is that he never got knocked out in his UFC career, or lost that ability to take a shot, which tends to be the reason a lot of fighters can’t keep fighting anymore. So that’s a good thing.
We’ll see what happens with Lesnar, but since Carwin seems so motivated to beat down his former title opponent, and not particularly fighting against the overall UFC competition, I’m not sure if he would still be into it. I could be wrong, but that’s my take away from his comments. He also hasn’t consistently been putting his name out there, compared to fighters like Georges St-Pierre, who was constantly talking about coming back during retirement. He is now vowing to make a comeback as soon as possible.
Regardless of my prediction, I do feel Carwin can be a viable contender, though, assuming he hasn’t lost a step and can still compete with the the best. He definitely has the striking to hang with the heavyweights, not to mention, crazy knockout power, and seems to have the ambition, too. Ironically, Carwin’s own 2014 criticism of Lesnar being one-dimensional is an issue he might suffer with when facing some of the current top 10 of the heavyweight ranks. That would make for an interesting storyline, should he actually step foot in the cage again.