Shane Carwin is only a few extra large footsteps away from reaching the MMA mountaintop. This Sat. night, in the co-main event of UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy, the undefeated 35-year-old knockout artist will make his long awaited return to the Octagon against Frank Mir for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship. It will be his first fight in over a year, and undoubtedly, the biggest test of his career.
Despite the media hype surrounding title tilt, Carwin isn’t feeling stressed. In fact, it’s the furthest thing from his mind right now. He’s the type of guy who doesn’t spend all of his time daydreaming about throwing his lunchbox size fists in his opponents’ unfortunate faces. Even “The Engineer” needs a welcomed break from that and although it’s difficult to understand him at times while he trucks along in a low service cell phone area somewhere in Denver, Colorado, it’s easy to comprehend why his fulltime gig at the North Weld County Water District is a blessing.
“I get the chance to focus there. It kinda takes me away from fighting and I think it’s actually beneficial for me,” he explains. “The job that I have is the job that I love and it’s the job I see myself retiring from. I don’t feel like those type of jobs come up very often and I think if I ever left it, I would take maybe some reduced hours or something, and I’m sure they’d be willing to do that with me, so there’s options out there.”
Carwin’s life has become even more hectic as he welcomed a baby girl into the world nearly four weeks ago. While most mothers and fathers are usually sleep-deprived for the first several months of a newborn’s growth and development, the heavyweight fighter hasn’t missed a beat. “My wife’s mom is staying with us thankfully to help out at night so I can get some sleep and rest, so I’ve been every fortunate to have her there and have family support,” he says. “That’s what it’s all about in the end.”
It’s quite amazing, really. Between a busy work schedule, training MMA on the regular, and spending time with his wife, nine-year-old soccer-playing son and now, newborn daughter, Carwin – clearly the king of multitasking – has been able to make everything work. It’s been like that for the past five years and so far, it’s been working for him well – a little too well, perhaps.
“The Engineer” debuted back in 2005 against Carlton Jones when the WEC still held heavyweight bouts. Just two minutes and eleven seconds into the fight, Carwin knocked him out. It would be the longest fight of his four and a half year career.
When he joined the UFC in 2008, the Colorado-bred fighter rattled off two straight victories and then fought formerly top ranked Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine last March. Though Carwin was floored early by the BJJ ace, he showed heart by weathering the storm, standing back up and delivering a devastating knockout blow to “Napao” seconds later. That performance would earn him a title shot against undisputed champ Brock Lesnar, but the fight never happened. Lesnar was diagnosed with a case of diverticulitis, a disease in the large intestine. Carwin, meanwhile, was battling the swine flu.
Now that “The Engineer” is all healed, he makes his long awaited return to the Octagon this weekend and will try to derail former champ Frank Mir in his quest to wear UFC gold. And, surprisingly, Carwin is hoping to break his string of first round knockouts and take the jiu-jitsu black belt into later rounds. “I’d probably be, maybe, a little upset if it didn’t go a couple of rounds just because I get questioned all the time from everybody about the cardio thing,” he says. “Plus, I’m in there going five, six rounds and sparring hard to go the distance with Frank.”
Even after the title tilt, however, the work won’t stop for Carwin. As a matter of fact, it’s likely his wife will be sending him a special message that every husband gets when ‘guy time’ is over. “My sexting is my wife giving me a ‘Honey-To-Do-List’ – a list of chores for me to do,” he says with a chuckle. “We laugh about it and once this fight gets done, I’ll be home and I’ll get to spend those late nights with my daughter in the rocking chair and my son, of course. He’s got soccer starting up, so I’m excited to be home and have some family time.”
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