Thursday, June 9, 2011

UFC 131 Fight Card: What's at Stake for Shane Carwin and Junior Dos Santos?

Saturday's UFC 131 will showcase two of the top fighters in the promotions heavyweight division, with former UFC Interim champion Shane Carwin squaring off against Ultimate Fighter 13 coach Junior Dos Santos.

For both fighters, this bout holds great significance, since the winner will face Cain Valasquez for the UFC Heavyweight championship.

Dos Santos, however, has the most at stake this weekend.

Winning a title elimination bout against Roy Nelson, Dos Santos was already in position to fight for the heavyweight title when an injury to Valasquez postponed the bout.

Not content with sitting on the sidelines, he decided to pull an Anthony Pettis, taking a fight with Brock Lesnar that would come after a stint as coach on the Ultimate Fighter.

Although his opponent has changed, Dos Santos may be in even more danger of losing his spot as the top contender due to Carwin's heavy hands and superb wrestling.  One can even argue that Carwin is a much bigger threat than Lesnar.

As we saw with Pettis last weekend, taking a fight instead of a guaranteed title shot can prove costly, especially when your opponent is a dynamic wrestler.

Risking his shot for a fight with a former champion may end up being a terrible career choice for Dos Santos.

Shane Carwin, on the other hand, has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to quickly rebound from a failed title and get another chance at UFC gold.

Coming off a brutal submission defeat to then champion Brock Lesnar, Carwin, who up until that fight had finished every opponent in the first round, gassed after pummeling his opponent entering the second round.

He will certainly look to show an improved cardio if he wants another run at a champion.  A loss will not only prevent a match-up with Valasquez from happening, but it will also send him to the back of the UFC's heavyweight contenders.

For both fighters, a defeat means more than a stain on their records, but a lost opportunity at glory as well.

You can follow Matt on Twitter MMA" class="aptureLink snap_noshots">@MattJuulMMA.

Stay tuned to Bleacher Report for all things UFC 131, including the latest UFC 131 results, fight card analysis, UFC 131 news and live reaction from Vancouver.

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