By Adam Martin
In September, former UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin announced via The Underground that his old contract with the UFC was up and that he is ready to come out of retirement and see what free agency is all about. Carwin, who is now 41 years old, has not fought a professional MMA bout since June 11, 2011, when he lost a lopsided unanimous decision to Junior dos Santos at UFC 131 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Prior to that, Carwin was submitted by Brock Lesnar at UFC 116 in one of the best heavyweight title fights in UFC history, so at present he is riding a two-fight losing streak. But don't forget, prior to those two losses -- and it's not like Lesnar or JDS are chumps, either -- Carwin was 12-0 with 12 finishes and was arguably the most feared heavyweight following his brutal knockout of Frank Mir back at UFC 111. Plus he put a beating on Lesnar in the first round of their bout before he gassed out.
Now, five years removed from his fight against JDS, and presumably over the back troubles that caused him to retire from the sport instead of face fellow coach Roy Nelson after the 16th season of "The Ultimate Fighter," Carwin wants to fight again, and it appears there is a certain promotion that has interest in signing him to a contract.
That promotion is none other than Rizin FC, the Japanese promotion that has become a cult favorite among hardcore MMA fans due to its throwback PRIDE FC style matchmaking and presentation. Carwin himself revealed on Twitter this past weekend that not only is Rizin interested in offering him a contract, but the promotion has an opponent in mind as well.
Fedor Emelianenko, arguably the greatest heavyweight fighter in MMA history, and by far Rizin's biggest draw. Emelianenko, who is now 40, is currently riding a five-fight win streak, though his last outing, a controversial majority decision win over Fabio Maldonado, was a fight where he showed huge signs of decline. Still, though, Emelianenko is a legend of the sport and if he wants to fight again, this is the best matchup he can give to the fans. It seems that Rizin and Carwin like this fight, but now it's up to Emelianenko to sign, as he essentially gets to pick his opponents at this stage of his career.
Hopefully, a deal can be reached and the MMA world can get ready for an exciting matchup between Carwin and Emelianenko, a fight that seems perfect for the main event of Rizin's New Year's card, or at worst the main event of a big card in early 2017. It's a very intriguing matchup
between Emelianenko, maybe the most skilled, well-rounded heavyweight ever to strap on the gloves, and Carwin, one of the hardest punchers the sport has ever seen. It’s just a good solid matchup between two formerly-great heavyweights, and one that will get fans excited to tune into Rizin, which is obviously why the promotion’s matchmakers are interested in booking the fight.
Even if Rizin can't make Emelianenko vs. Carwin happen for whatever reason, Carwin still makes sense for the organization to sign. After all, it's not like Carwin is the only heavyweight on the Rizin roster. Mirko Cro Cop, another legend past his prime, is also under contract with Rizin, and a matchup between Cro Cop and Carwin, two devastating strikers, is also fun to think about. But really, Rizin could get any heavyweight to fight Carwin, and it would be a perfect fit for the American heading over to Japan to finish his career. Carwin is a lot like Japanese favorite Bob Sapp, in that he's a larger than life person who is thickly muscled and has big knockout power, but unlike Sapp, he actually comes to fight and put on a good show, and the Japanese fans appreciate a good show.
Hopefully, Rizin can figure out a way to get this Carwin vs. Emelianenko fight booked sooner than later, because it's a great fight that would get fans tuning in to watch. But even if that fight can't be booked, Rizin would still be a good landing spot for Carwin to continue his fighting career, and hopefully a deal can be reached between both parties sooner than later.