June 2, 2011
Expect a knockout in UFC 131's main event
By NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency
If Junior Dos Santos and Shane Carwin can agree on one thing, it's that somebody is going to sleep.
The two knockout artists meet in the main event of UFC 131 in Vancouver on June 11, with the winner earning a shot at heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
For both fighters, the plan is simple: Punch the other guy until he has been separated from his senses.
"Let's face it, Dos Santos and I got to where we are by knocking people out," Carwin said on a UFC conference call. "That's where I'm most passionate. We're both explosive fighters and I think the fans are going to have a real treat...knowing both guys have knockout power in their hands."
Dos Santos was originally set to take on former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar, his opposing coach on the most recent edition of The Ultimate Fighter. However, a recurring intestinal disorder forced Lesnar out of the fight and onto the operating table, where he had 12 inches of his large intestine removed.
Carwin was already booked to face ground wizard Jon Olav Einemo on the card. When Lesnar fell ill, he was bumped to the main-event slot.
Dos Santos said his training wasn't affected by the change in opponent. But when the cage door shuts, he will have to be more careful when trading punchers with Carwin, whose striking game dwarfs Lesnar's.
"I really want to be UFC heavyweight champion," said Dos Santos, who switched between speaking English and relying on translator Derek Lee. "I've got one more big challenge in front of me--Shane Carwin. He's a very dangerous fighter and I have to respect (him).
"The training was the same, but now the strategy is going to be a little bit different because...against a guy like Brock, I'd feel more comfortable on my feet. Fighting a guy like Shane, I'm going to have to be more cautious."
Carwin hasn't fought since he came up short against then-champion Lesnar at UFC 116 last July.
Carwin had a great first round, putting Lesnar into the fetal position and then raining down strikes in an attempt to claim the belt. Lesnar survived and Carwin punched himself out, making him easy prey to an arm-triangle choke in the second.
"I learned some things about picking my shots a little bit more when you've got somebody hurt," Carwin said of his only loss.
Carwin was then expected to meet Roy Nelson at UFC 125 in January, but required neck surgery to correct foraminal stenosis, a condition that results in pinched nerves.
"Basically, my right arm and the middle of my back were going numb," Carwin said. "The surgeon was able to get in there and correct all that, drill out the bone and give the nerve room, so it wasn't tense."
With his neck healed, Carwin tackled his conditioning and revamped his diet.
"I'm weighing around about 255 to 260," said Carwin, who used to cut 15 pounds to make the 265 pound heavyweight limit. "My diet is mostly organic now--lots of fruits and vegetables. We get some chicken and fish in for protein.
"I walk around now and I feel like I have more energy. I just feel generally better."
It's also been a while since we've seen Dos Santos in the cage.
The coming bout with Carwin ends his 10-month hiatus from competition. He was next in line to challenge Velasquez, but the champion was forced out of the bout to undergo surgery for a torn rotator cuff.
Dos Santos admitted the time off was frustrating, but he's looking forward to trying to knock Carwin's head off.
"I really miss stepping into the octagon and doing what I'm trained to do," Dos Santos said. "The main thing is to keep fighting. You've got to always be fighting to keep yourself up to date. This fight is going to be great to bring me back up and get ready for the title shot.
"I'm always looking for the knockout in my fights and this fight is not going to be any different. Shane Carwin can walk through some punches. He's a really tough guy, but I have a lot of belief in the power of my hands. Shane has maybe never felt the power like I have."
Carwin expects no less from such a dangerous striker.
"Junior, he's one of the top guys in the world," Carwin said. "I have a ton of respect for him and the opponents that he's fought.
"What I miss most is being able to compete. That's what I love to do, to step in the octagon with all the crazy UFC fans going wild."
NELSON FIGHTING ILLNESS
If you thought Roy Nelson looked off in his fight with Frank Mir at UFC 130, you're not alone.
Despite owning the most famous gut in MMA, The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 winner has never run out of gas so quickly. By the end of the first round he was breathing heavily through his mouth. Luckily for Nelson, he can take a shot and only lost a unanimous decision to Mir.
Nelson has since confirmed he was suffering from walking pneumonia for the first two weeks of May and his conditioning paid the price.
Walking pneumonia is essentially a weaker form of conventional pneumonia in that a person suffering from the condition does not have to be bedridden or hospitalized.
Yahoo! Sports first reported the illness following a text message exchange with Nelson's wife. The rotund fighter later confirmed the condition with Sherdog.
"(I'm) not feeling better," Nelson said. "Feels like I picked a scab off of my lung."
SONNEN A LOSER IN EVERY SENSE: SILVA
Sorry, Yushin Okami, but Anderson Silva doesn't want you hanging around that Chael Sonnen kid anymore. He's a bad influence.
Okami is set to challenge Silva for the middleweight title at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro Aug. 27. He has also been training with Sonnen since dropping a unanimous decision to the controversial middleweight at UFC 104 a couple of years back.
In a recent interview with Brazilian newspaper O Globo, Silva ripped Okami for working with the man who almost took his championship.
"You have to find the best people to train with, and I think (Okami) chose wrong," Silva said. "I'd never align myself with a loser, a loser in every sense. He didn't win the fight (between us) and got caught doping. You want to be a champion? Get with good people, with winners. Moreover, Sonnen wasn't a tough opponent for me. I was injured with cracked ribs and fought five rounds. If I hadn't been injured, the fight would have been different."
WORLDWIDE TOURNAMENT COULD BE IN WORKS
UFC president Dana White has a dream: A world Ultimate Fighter grand prix.
The first step is to debut an international edition of TUF. Though a deal has yet to be finalized, White is targeting the Philippines to kick things off.
"We're, like, one piece away from finishing the thing," White said to reporters following UFC 130.
Once the ball gets rolling, White hopes to add more versions of the reality TV show in countries all over the world. This would all lead to a global grand prix tournament involving the best up-and-coming fighters from each participating country.
"It's like the World Cup of TUF," White said. "Dude, if we can nail that one -- that's my dream."
MAYHEM UNLEASHED ON TUF
If you thought the recent run of The Ultimate Fighter, featuring Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos as coaches, lacked fireworks, get ready for the 4th of July.
UFC president Dana White confirmed Jason (Mayhem) Miller and Michael Bisping will head up next season's teams.
Miller was scheduled to fight Aaron Simpson at UFC 132 on July 2 in his return to the organization, but has now been replaced on the card by Brad Tavares.
Chael Sonnen was originally offered the spot on the reality show opposite the cocky Brit, but his indefinite suspension was upheld by the California State Athletic Commission. Sonnen is, however, able to reapply for a fighter's licence after his expires June 29.
Since the UFC brass couldn't get the best trash-talker in the business to face off with Bisping, they went with the crazy and charismatic Miller.