Former interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin joined the MMA Fight Corner Wednesday night to talk about his recent coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter season 16 and admitted that working with Roy Nelson wasn’t easy. In mid-October 2011, Carwin announced that he’d have to withdraw from competing until mid-2012 for back surgery. He made his return to the UFC when he signed on to become a coach on TUF opposite Roy “Big Country” Nelson (17-7, MMA).
“Working with somebody that you dislike is kind of rough. You got those people at the office, you’re both trying to get coffee and you don’t like each other. There’s not a lot to be said,” Carwin stated.
What really bothered Carwin about Big Country wasn’t so much his antics, but rather what he represents. “It stems from everything. I just think he’s a shell,” Carwin said. “He’s a shell. I think he puts on a front. He claims to be this average guy and that’s who his audience is, that he’s this average dude fighting and he’s anything but that. The guy’s never had a job in his life. And that’s how I grew up. I grew up poor and I had a job at 15. I was working construction, throwing boxes, working in factories. For me to get where I got, it was a hard route of labor and that guy’s never even had a job. For him to sit there and talk to blue collar people, and me and my people, that stuff’s (expletive) and it pisses me off.”
Carwin’s 12-2 in his MMA career and is still finishing up getting another degree on top of it. Yet he said earning a good education and managing to keep up with fighting at the same time has been important to him. “My mom raised three boys on her own. She’s my hero and her major goal in life was to make sure that we all three got college educations. It was something that she wasn’t able to do that she wanted. So, I actually have two degrees and a minor and I’m still working on my main degree in mechanical engineering.”
Although Nelson said he didn’t have to interact too much with Nelson since their teams trained at different times, he did say that coaching on the UFC’s flagship reality series was a challenge. “It was stressful at first because your managing people and getting them put into their positions and what we’re trying to focus on. Obviously it was those eight individuals, those kids, that’s what we’re there for is to make them better, a better fighter. And not only to being a better fighter, but a better person and becoming successful in life and giving them the tools and the foundation on how to do that. That part was the hard part, but honestly it was like being on summer vacation,” Carwin said. “I never though I’d have a summer vacation at 37.”
It’s not an easy task for the UFC to have had as many seasons of The Ultimate Fighter as they’ve had and to keep the content fresh and entertaining. But, Carwin promises this season will stand out from the rest. “I think it can affect a ton of people at home in a positive manner and wake them up and realize what they’ve been missing in life.”
Carwin also said there are standouts on the show and even a fighter he believes could hold a belt someday, though he wouldn’t reveal who.
However, Carwin admitted there was one thing he was hoping to see that was missing from the season premiere. “The premiere was okay. I wish they would have showed a few other things, like Pat Barry warming the guys up back there. He was phenomenal at warming them up, letting them literally punch him in the face as hard as they could and letting them kick him in the legs as hard as they could. He’s always saying funny things.”
This season, Pat “HD” Barry was an assistant coach on Team Carwin. The two hit it off at UFC events they’d met at, so Carwin called up Barry and asked him if he wanted the job. From the experience, Carwin said that he’s gained a ton of respect for him.
“Pat and I are a lot different than a lot of the other fighters. We don’t walk around all big and cocky and think we rule the world. We’re normal guys. We come from similar backgrounds, his mom raised him and his brother and these are things I found out after. We always talked at the expos and enjoyed each others company,” Carwin said of Barry. “He’s a phenomenal kickboxer. He’s learned the American style as well as the European style. That’s a piece of the puzzle I was missing for the coaching. Now, me and Pat talk everyday.”
Aside from the coaching gig, Carwin thinks the two of them have skill sets that can only benefit each other to up their game. “I truly believe that he can help my standup game that much. And I believe that I can help him with his wrestling and ground game. I pray everyday that he’ll move out here to Colorado and become part of the team since Team Deathclutch is disintegrated.”
He added their newfound friendship and respect for each other means he won’t fight Pat Barry anytime in the near future. “There’s plenty of us to go around and have these fights. If it came down to that and they made us fight or whatever…I mean…watch the show.”
The show, The Ultimate Fighter airs on FX Fridays at 10pm ET/PT. Carwin and Nelson will face off in the season finale which happens on December 15 at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.