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UFC 96: Shane Carwin-Gabriel Gonzaga Preview and Prediction

Shane Carwin vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
10-0 Record 10-3
No. 24 heavyweight
Rank No. 8 heavyweight
5-0 (T)KO Record 4-3
5-0 Sub. Record 6-0
0-0 Dec. Record 0-0
W-10 Streak W-2
262 Weight 252
6-4 Height 6-2
34 Age 29
Team Jackson Camp Team Link

Shane Carwin will fight Gabriel Gonzaga on Saturday night at UFC 96. The full preview is below.

What's at stake for Carwin: The chance to prove he's an elite heavyweight. Records don't get more impressive than Carwin's -- he's 10-0, with five first-round knockouts and five first-round submissions. But Carwin has never faced an elite opponent. On Saturday night, he will.

What's at stake for Gonzaga: The chance to fight for a title again. When Gonzaga knocked out Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic almost two years ago at UFC 70, he got his first chance at the UFC heavyweight title, and he was actually favored to beat Randy Couture heading into that fight. But he lost to Couture, then lost to Fabricio Werdum after that, and he became a UFC heavyweight also-ran. Now, however, Gonzaga is on a two-fight winnings streak, and if he beats Carwin he might just get another title shot before the year is out.

Carwin says about Gonzaga
: "He's a top 10 heavyweight in the world. ... I think Gabe brings it all. He's a complete fighter. The days of being a one-dimensional fighter are long over. People have to be well-rounded, and I think Gabe brings that complete package."

Why Gonzaga is favored: He has much more experience against high-level opponents than Carwin has. Although Gonzaga is just 1-3 in his four biggest fights (against Cro Cop, Couture and Werdum twice), that's still one more win against a top-notch fight than Carwin has. Gonzaga is also much more skilled in Brazilian jiu jitsu than Carwin, and despite all of Carwin's wrestling prowess, Gonzaga will have a bigadvantage on the ground.

Why Carwin could pull the upset: He's a bigger, more explosive athlete who could knock Gonzaga out at any moment. Carwin can use his superior athleticism to take the fight to Gonzaga.

Carwin Links:
Official site | UFC profile | Sherdog record | Wikipedia entry

Gonzaga Links:
Official site | UFC profile | Sherdog record | Wikipedia entry

Prediction: Carwin pulls off a big upset, using his punching power to pound out a TKO win.