Lesnar Beats Carwin

LAS VEGAS (AP) - About the time Shane Carwin's 40th consecutive

punch hit him in the face, Brock Lesnar realized he couldn't argue

if the referee stopped their fight and took away his UFC

heavyweight title.

When Carwin's punches gradually lost their power, Lesnar knew he

would survive - and one round later, he dramatically finished a

comeback within a comeback at UFC 116.

Lesnar rallied from a horrific first-round beating to stop

Carwin with a choke in the second round, defending his title

Saturday night in his first fight since an intestinal illness

nearly killed him.

Lesnar (5-1), the intimidating former pro wrestler and the UFC's

biggest pay-per-view star, is a noticeably humbler man after

surviving diverticultis and a brutal fight with Carwin, the

previously undefeated interim champion.

"From that fight to this one feels like 10 years," Lesnar

said. "It's been a grueling road. To come back from all that, and

to be here and to win, words just cannot describe it. I really feel

like I'm in a dream."

Lesnar took down Carwin in the second round and got Carwin

(12-1) in an arm triangle choke, forcing Carwin to tap out at the

MGM Grand Garden. Instead of celebrating with trash talk and

obscene gestures, as he did at UFC 100 a year ago after beating

Frank Mir, Lesnar praised his opponent and basked in cheers from

the same arena that booed him last July.

"I knew he was getting tired," Lesnar said. "Each shot was

less dramatic than the other. ... I stand before you a humble

champion, and I'm still the toughest (guy) around, baby."

Lesnar's victory was about more than brute toughness. He

showcased his improved ground game in the fight, leading to a

submission victory on a move that would have been beyond his

abilities just a year ago.

"The thought that crossed my mind when I was under there was

that this isn't how it's going to end," Lesnar said before

pointing at his heavyweight title belt. "I've been through a lot,

but I wasn't going home without this thing, that's for sure."

In the co-main event in the UFC's hometown, Chris Leben stopped

Yoshihiro Akiyama with 40 seconds left in the final round to earn a

dramatic victory in Leben's second fight in two weeks. Welterweight

Chris Lytle also beat Matt Brown, and veteran Stephan Bonnar

stopped Krzysztof Soszynski with a second-round flurry.

The victory is another surprising twist in the unique career

path of Lesnar, the former college wrestling champion, professional

fake wrestler and Minnesota Vikings tryout player who has become

MMA's biggest name, if not its most skilled practitioner, in just

six pro fights.

Lesnar dropped out of two scheduled fights with Carwin last

fall, citing injuries and fatigue that culminated when he fell

seriously ill on a hunting trip in Canada. He was pronounced

healthy early this year and began training for this long-overdue

fight with Carwin, who beat Mir at UFC 111 in New Jersey last March

to claim the interim title.

Carwin, whose previous 12 fights never reached the second round,

and Lesnar slammed heavily into the cage in the opening minute, but

Carwin quickly got Lesnar on the defensive with an uppercut that

staggered him. Carwin punched Lesnar in the head for the better

part of two minutes, cutting Lesnar badly over his left eye, yet he

survived and even stood up.

"My hat is off to him," said Carwin, who was taken to a

hospital after hyperventilating in the locker room. "He's the

champion. I fell down the mountain, but I'll get back up."

The fighters exchanged a high-five before the second round, and


wrestling skills eventually put him in position to choke Carwin, a

former college wrestler who might have expended too much energy

trying to finish it in the first round.

Earlier, Leben posted a remarkable victory just two weeks after

his last fight, returning to the octagon as an injury replacement

for Wanderlei Silva. Despite one of the quickest turnarounds in

recent MMA history after beating Aaron Simpson last month, Leben

survived Akiyama's skill and landed superior strikes before getting

Akiyama in a triangle choke, forcing the touted Japanese judo star

to tap out of his second UFC bout.

"It's so overwhelming," Leben said. "I laid in bed last night

and cried because I want to win so bad. My coaches and trainers put

so much into it. The emotion afterward is mind-boggling."

Earlier, Bonnar salvaged his career with a dramatic second-round

stoppage of Soszynski, who won the fighters' first meeting last

February. Bonnar took significant punishment and developed serious

cuts in the first round, but he staggered Soszynski with a knee to

the face and then landed several dozen left hands to the prone

Soszynski's ear before the fight was stopped.

Bonnar (15-7), known as the American Psycho for his slicked-back

good looks, ended a three-match losing streak by stopping

Soszynski, who beat Bonnar in Australia when the fight was stopped

because of a cut from an inadvertent head butt.

"I like winning ugly, and boy, do I look ugly right now,"

Bonnar said.

The MGM Grand Garden crowd included Evander Holyfield, Dwayne

"The Rock" Johnson and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)