What a difference a year makes.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight Shane Carwin scored a violent first-round knockout to earn himself the promotion's interim heavyweight championship belt at UFC 111 in Newark, N.J., on March 27, 2010.
"The Engineer" was on top of the world. Undefeated (12-0) in mixed martial arts (MMA), finishing all of his opponents in the first round, Carwin's future was bright.
Then the wheels suddenly fell off.
After winning the interim title, Carwin lost his next two consecutive bouts to Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos, respectively. The losses, combined with various health problems, pushed Carwin far outside the heavyweight title picture. And just when he was eager to climb back up the contender ladder, injuries have once again sabotaged his ascent.
Tonight (Nov. 14, 2011), Carwin sat down with the folks at HDNet's Inside MMA to discuss the injury that has been keeping him out of the cage, as well as his plans for the future:
"Right now, I'm doing alright. We gotta get up early. I gotta get up at about 3:30 in the morning to head down there to go have surgery. But, it's T-10 through T-12. It's basically the middle of my back. I've got a disc that's pressing into my spinal cord. They've basically removed all the spinal fluid around the area. The first time something really bad happened, I was doing a seminar, just drilling takedowns and I got taken down. Both my legs froze up and I actually thought I was paralyzed. It lasted 10 to 15 seconds. I wasn't able to move them (my legs) or anything. Finally, I was able to recover after the initial impact to my spinal cord. When I started jumping and stuff, I had a tremendous amount of pain in my legs. What they're gonna do is they're gonna actually drill out the bone in my spine to give my spinal cord some room in there."
Carwin, 36, went on to elaborate on his injury, specifically in regard to the recovery process. According to his doctor, going under the knife was unavoidable if he wanted to continue his MMA career.
According to Carwin, he still has plans to "engineer" one more comeback:
"I think I'm looking at about 10 weeks of down time. It's similar to the neck injury that I've had. I actually had bones that were growing around my spinal cord. They went in there and removed that. This is the same time of procedure. This is the third time that my back's been operated on.... I love to fight and I'm passionate about it. Any time you're passionate about something and you love to do it, it makes it easy to go to work. That's what I love to do. The doctor told me I can either have this surgery and be able to train and do all the things that I need to do to be a complete athlete or we could forego the surgery and I could quit. But I'd probably be looking at surgery down the road anyway."
Should Carwin be able to successfully recover from his injury, there should be a several interesting fights available to him. He expects to return in spring 2012, meaning that the heavyweight picture will likely be somewhat different than it is currently.
Regardless, one thing is for sure: winners never quit and Carwin is no quitter.
However, his window of opportunity is closing fast -- he's had just four fights in almost three years. He needs to get healthy, and stay healthy, if intends on making another push to the top.
The sooner the better.
Check out the segment from HDNet: