Shane Carwin Cleared for Contact, Targeting Return Fight in Early Fall

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Shane Carwin, the bruising former UFC interim heavyweight champion, is officially on the comeback trail.

Following a lengthy recovery from back surgery, Carwin, 37, announced Wednesday he was cleared for contact and issued a request for UFC officials to slot him into a fight later this year.

"I informed UFC Matchmaker (Joe Silva) that I would like to fight in early fall 2012," Carwin wrote on his website. "I would like to be able to fight every three or four months. Barring injury I intend to leave the UFC octagon and head back to the Grudge Training Center to continue the climb."

Carwin's (12-2) improbable rise to UFC stardom saw the former collegiate standout shoot up the heavyweight ranks on the strength of a violent string of first-round knockouts, culminating in a brutal victory over Frank Mir to win the UFC interim heavyweight strap.

In an effort to unify the belts, Carwin nearly defeated reigning champion Brock Lesnar, before gassing out in the second round and submitting to an arm-triangle choke. Following an extended recovery from neck surgery, the American dropped a decision to Junior dos Santos in a heavyweight title eliminator at UFC 131, and has yet to compete since the loss.

"I have spent my entire career dealing with injuries sustained through football," Carwin concluded. "I am 100% and I feel like a younger version of my former self. The UFC should look into adding some padding in the gloves because I plan on crushing my opponents."

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