There comes a time in every fighter’s career when the cold fist of reality hits them square in the puss and lets them know that they’re too old and their body too beat up to compete at the highest levels anymore. Such was the case with Shane Carwin this week, who – after rocketing up the UFC’s heavyweight ranks, securing an interim title, then running into a pair of brick walls named Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos – announced his retirement from MMA competition. Sure, it’s been a couple years since Carwin last saw action, but it always seemed like his return was inevitable. Now, we’re left musing over what sort of legacy, if any, he left behind.
Thus, this week’s Rebellion Roundtable question: What is Carwin’s legacy?
In the end, the legacy of Shane Carwin will likely be felt by those behind the scenes more than the typical fan. While Carwin was a champion, he didn’t make the impact of a Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos. However, his ability to balance fighting and his other career (as an engineer) could serve as a great example for fighters going forward.
Chris McDevitt, MMALinker:
I think Carwin’s legacy is one of the greatest what-ifs in the heavyweight division. Prior to his fight with Brock Lesnar he had never been out of the first round. Prior to his last fight, he had never been to a decision. If you watch Lesnar vs. Carwin again, I think you can make a strong case that the fight should have been stopped in the first round. The same ref whose judgment was praised for allowing the fight to continue is now facing a decade in prison for owning and operating a multimillion-dollar marijuana operation. Whose judgment are we praising? Carwin was robbed and it seems that his body never truly recovered from the back/shoulder/neck injuries and punishment of his youth and career. I’m glad he won’t be risking further injury. I just wish he were retiring as a former champ. He deserved that much.
As reported yesterday, Shane Carwin tweeted that he has officially retired. After eight years in this sport we call MMA, Carwin calls it quits, mainly due to the many injuries and surgeries in the last two years or so. As much as I loved watching a Carwin fight, he’ll realistically go down in the UFC record books as a flash in the pan. To be great in any sport, one needs longevity in their careers and Carwin certainly didn’t have that. Just as Lesnar before him, his biggest career win was against Frank Mir, winning the interim UFC heavyweight title. Truth be told, that’s a lot more than your average heavyweight in the UFC can say. Let me be clear about this, I’m not saying that being a flash in the pan is a bad thing. Not only did he fight like what the general perception of what a heavyweight is supposed to fight like, but he came through just about everytime with a KO, with the exception being his last career bout against Junior dos Santos. Although brief, Carwin’s legacy (if you can call it that) is a throwback to fighters who left it all in the cage and a fighter who knew just how much joy he can bring to the masses with one of those sledgehammer-like right hands. From a Frank Mir fan who saw Carwin smash him like a tin can, I’d like to thank Carwin for what he gave the sport of MMA, and specifically the UFC, at a time when the UFC’s heavyweight division was beginning to really take off. Brief or not, he was part of one of the biggest, literally, heavyweight bouts in UFC history and for that Carwin and his legacy will always be remembered fondly.
Mike Stets, FightLine:
Everyone remembers Carwin gassing out and getting subbed in the second round vs. Lesnar, but that fight could’ve easily been called in the first. Then maybe he faces Cain Velasquez and things are possibly different for him. That didn’t happen and he barely survived a first-round bashing at the hands of JDS, eventually losing by decision. He has had some big wins but ultimately not in the discussion of the greats of the sport. Maybe if he had defeated Lesnar, and not suffered injuries, he would’ve been.
Marco Scolari, CagedInsider:
Shane Carwin was an alright fighter but the only thing he really left behind was his teeth after his lashing from Junior. Outside of that, he bullied some shitty heavyweights and folded to an inexperienced WWE wrestler when it mattered. Unless being the most surgically repaired athlete in sports is worthy of a legacy, nothing historical from Mr. Carwin.
He was overrated. He beat up on smaller guys and when it came time to fight serious competition, his lack of dedication to training showed. He gassed out in the biggest fight of his life. I understand that he wanted to be both and engineer and a fighter but his career suffered because of it. He had huge power but his technical boxing skills were lacking. Still, his huge KO’s will fill the UFC’s highlight reels for years to come.
Joe Lisnow, FightLine:
Looking back at Shane Carwin’s short run in MMA, the first word that comes to mind is far from legacy. I’m not sure what word will define his career, as it was similar to other heavyweights who earn a title shot after a few wins. That’s all it takes in the heavyweight division. The two memorable moments from Carwin will be when he gassed out with Brock Lesnar and the bloody mess his face was after 15 minutes with Junior dos Santos. The memorable moments aren’t postives and neither was Carwin’s role to the sport.
Brian Park, MMALinker:
I suspect only a few awaited his return as a championship contender after his loss to Junior dos Santos and his subsequent back surgery. At the age of 38, it’s tough to be on top, let alone competitive, unless you’re Randy Couture. Nevertheless, it’s unfortunate to lose such a great fighter to Father Time.
Jake Norris, Fightline:
I think Shane Carwin had a remarkable UFC run and I’m sorry to see him go. I recall when that group of heavyweights (Carwin along with Cain, Junior, Lesnar, and Roy Nelson) burst onto the scene and the UFC heavyweight division went from shallow to stacked almost overnight. Carwin obviously deserves recognition for his tremendous punching power and highlight reel KOs, but unfortunately, I’d say the real defining moment of his career was the Lesnar fight. That’s about as close as you can get to winning a UFC championship (no, the interim belt doesn’t count) without actually taking home the gold. In light of that, I think Carwin will be remembered as a very good fighter, but not quite great. He’s the Earnie Shavers of MMA.
Carwin’s retirement is definitely unfortunate in that it was almost certainly related to health issues rather than a decision he willingly made, and the presence of a cement-fisted slugger with some wrestling chops is always welcome in the heavyweight division. However, losing him isn’t a major blow by any means considering he hadn’t fought in two years or won in more than three. And, though he may have had to call it quits prematurely, Carwin wasn’t likely to have much more time left in the sport to begin with at 38-years old.