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UFC 131 Morning After: Shane Carwin Showed Incredible Heart

If you saw the beating Junior dos Santos put on Shane Carwin on Saturday night at UFC 131, you know that dos Santos is a uniquely talented fighter, and one of the most lethal punchers the sport of mixed martial arts has ever seen.

But let me ask you something else: How many fighters do you think could have withstood the barrage of punishment that dos Santos dished out in the first round, and still fought for 10 more minutes, as Carwin did?

I'd wager that the number of fighters who could have done what Carwin did is extremely small. And maybe even zero.

When Carwin lost to Brock Lesnar at UFC 116, he was roundly criticized for the way he fell apart after dominating the first round. In that fight, Carwin grew so exhausted that he just couldn't fight anymore in the second, as Lesnar easily took him down and finished him off. Carwin was exhausted after the first round this time, too, although it was a very different situation: Dos Santos had pummeled Carwin and turned his face into a bloody mess, and it didn't appear that Carwin had much of a chance of fighting for 10 more minutes.

As I watched at the start of the second round, I remembered the Lesnar fight and I figured Carwin was finished: He didn't have the gas to last with Lesnar, and he certainly wouldn't have the gas to last with dos Santos. But I was wrong. Carwin showed that he was game, came out for the second round and actually fought reasonably well, although it was obvious that he wasn't going to beat dos Santos.

And then in the third round, Carwin really showed his heart. With a minute to go in the fight, referee Herb Dean offered Carwin an easy way out: He called a halt to the fight and brought in the ringside physician to check Carwin's cuts and ask him about his vision. If Carwin had wanted to quit, he could have just told the doctor that the blood was getting in his eyes and affecting his vision, and the fight would have been stopped. Instead, Carwin insisted that he wanted to keep going, and he took one more minute of punishment.

The story of UFC 131 is Junior dos Santos, and he deserves all the credit in the world for what he did to Carwin. But give a little credit, too, to Carwin. After taking the kind of punishment that few men could withstand, Carwin fought until the end, and walked out of the Octagon deserving to hold his head high.

Notes from UFC 131
-- Michihiro Omigawa needs to get with a good kickboxing coach and improve his stance. On Saturday night he simply stood in front of Darren Elkins, face forward, with both hands down by his hips. Give Omigawa credit for having good head movement and dodging most of Elkins' punches, but if Omigawa doesn't improve his stand-up defense, the next good striker he faces is going to put him to sleep.

-- The first two rounds of Joey Beltran vs. Aaron Rosa was a sloppy mess of a stand-up brawl, but Beltran did a nice job of taking Rosa down and finishing him with hard punches on the ground in the third round. Beltran is never going to be a great heavyweight, but he has shown a flair for exciting fights.

-- Brad Pickett is currently one of the top 10 bantamweights in MMA, and he also might be one of the best cornermen in the sport. Pickett was in Jason Young's corner for his fight with Dustin Poirier Saturday night, and it was a pleasure listening to the instructions Pickett gave Young between rounds. Rather than just being a "rah-rah" cheerleader like so many cornermen, Pickett was giving Young specifics about fight strategy. Young lost the fight, but he's a promising fighter with a good coach in his corner.

Quotes from UFC 131
-- "Sorry I was stalling the last round." -- Dustin Poirier to Jason Young in the Octagon after their fight. It was funny to hear Poirier apologizing to Young and explaining that he thought he had to slow the fight down at the end because Young had better cardio than he did. To hear Poirier and Young chitchatting together, you'd think they had just engaged in a friendly game of racquetball, not beaten the hell out of each other for 15 minutes.

-- "I saw his eyes roll back." -- Sam Stout, explaining how he knew he had knocked Yves Edwards cold with one punch in the first round.

-- "It was one of the most vicious knockouts in UFC history, if not the most vicious." -- UFC President Dana White on Stout's knockout.

Good call
-- Referee Herb Dean did a textbook-perfect job of handling things when Nick Ring opened up a big cut on James Head's nose in the second round of their fight. Ring was on top of Head in side control when the blood really started to pour out of Head's nose, and what Dean did was something every referee should study:

1. Dean told the fighters to stop.
2. Dean told both fighters before they got up that if the fight was re-started, they would be returned to the exact same position with Ring in side control.
3. Dean brought in the ringside doctor to examine Head's cut and ask if he thought Head could continue.
4. After the doctor said he thought Head would be OK, Dean asked Head if he wanted to continue.
5. After Head said he wanted to keep fighting, Dean positioned both fighters exactly where they were and waited to stop the fight until they were in the exact position they had been in.

That's MMA refereeing at its best.

Bad call
-- The night got started with a bad decision, as Omigawa was robbed in his unanimous decision loss to Elkins. I was stunned that one judge scored it 30-27 for Elkins, and even the other two judges scoring it 29-28 for Elkins was a surprise. I had it 29-28 for Omigawa, and I was glad to hear UFC President Dana White say he's going to pay Omigawa his win money.

-- Another highly questionable decision came from the judge who gave Mark Munoz all three rounds of his fight with Demian Maia. The first round clearly should have gone to Maia.

Stock up
-- Nick Ring and Chris Weidman are far from household names, but they both stayed undefeated and looked impressive in doing it in their respective victories on Saturday night. They're both looking good, and I'd love to see Ring vs. Weidman in the future.

Stock Down
-- Yves Edwards was brutally knocked out by Sam Stout, bringing to a sudden end the two-fight UFC winning streak that Edwards had built up. Edwards has been fighting forever, and seeing that knockout had me wondering if he can fight much longer.

Fight I want to see next
Kenny Florian vs. Jose Aldo. Florian's performance against Diego Nunes likely earned him a shot against the UFC featherweight champion. Florian-Aldo is the biggest featherweight fight the UFC can make, and it should be great.