Fully equipped Lesnar is a scary Lesnar

LAS VEGAS -- Wrestling, athletic ability and physical strength will each be a factor Saturday when heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar defends against Shane Carwin in the main event at UFC 116.

Timing, however, might be the most important factor.

Lesnar hasn't simply beaten opponents en route to the UFC title; he's dominated them. Yet those opponents -- Randy Couture, Frank Mir and Heath Herring -- might not have witnessed the best that Lesnar had to offer.

It is unlikely Carwin will dodge that bullet.

When Lesnar was diagnosed with mononucleosis and later diverticulitis, doctors said he'd been fighting at about 60 percent of his capacity. He is fully recovered and expected to enter the cage at 100 percent -- physically and mentally.

In the days before his previous UFC bouts, Lesnar walked around with a scowl on his face. He wanted to get in the cage, crush his opponent, take his paycheck and immediately head home.

Lesnar never seemed to enjoy his chosen occupation. That isn't the case anymore.

The scowl has been replaced with a glow on his face. He likes where he is as a human being, a family man and a fighter.

Lesnar feels great and is on a mission to be the best 265-pound fighter on this planet. He's daring to be great.

"In the pursuit to greatness in this sport, you have to evolve," Lesnar told ESPN.com. "I've had to change a few things. I want to be and go down as the greatest heavyweight in the world."

To achieve his goal, Lesnar eats better, trains harder and works diligently to improve his standup skills. He expects to enter the cage Saturday night at 100 percent, but will it be enough to hand Carwin his first professional loss?

UFC president Dana White is eager to find out.

"I don't know what we're going to see," White told ESPN.com. "Will [Lesnar] be faster, stronger, have more endurance? I don't know what being 60 percent means as opposed to 100 percent with what we've seen from this guy.

"The fact that he was only 60 or 70 percent, and now he could be 100 percent, that's scary."

It could be a frightening scene for Carwin; it could also be Lesnar's worst night ever.

While Lesnar feels great, he hasn't competed in nearly a year. Fighters who have been inactive for an extended period tend to lose their timing -- they have ring rust.

Experiencing ring rust against Carwin, a guy who consistently knocks people out, would prove disastrous for Lesnar.

After a solid camp, Lesnar doesn't believe ring rust will be a factor at UFC 116. White tends to agree, but for a different reason.

"The thing about Brock Lesnar is that he hasn't been around that long," White said. "He's only had five fights. It's not like this guy has had 25 fights and took a big layoff.

"This guy is still new to the sport. He's still green. This guy is still learning. No matter what, he knows more than he knew when he last fought.

"I don't see [ring rust] affecting him at all. He's too new to the sport for that to affect him," White said.

"When you're talking about ring rust, usually your timing is off, your cardio is not there, because you don't have the rounds under you. Lesnar is too green for that."

Inexperience might help Lesnar (4-1-0) avoid ring rust against Carwin, but it could also prove detrimental.

"He's either going to go in and face a guy in Shane Carwin who hits too hard or can wrestle with him or can possibly submit him," White said. "That's the problem he's going to have with Shane Carwin.

"This guy could possibly knock [Lesnar] out. He's dealing with more of an experience factor than a ring-rust factor."

The interim titleholder has 12 pro fights under his belt. Carwin was brought along slowly at UFC. He was allowed to get the kinks out before facing veterans Gabriel Gonzaga and Mir, both of whom he finished -- like each of his previous foes -- in the first round.

Lesnar was tossed into the fire immediately, facing Mir in his UFC debut. After dominating Mir early, Lesnar made a mistake and was forced to tap.

He has since avoided making mistakes, but one slip against Carwin and Lesnar likely goes to sleep.

Carwin prefers to finish this fight early, but not too quickly. He has not experienced the second round as a professional and wouldn't mind taking a dip in deeper waters.

"Frankly, I'd be happy if it goes longer, then I can stop answering these first-round questions," Carwin told ESPN.com.

Franklin McNeil is a contributing mixed martial arts/boxing writer for ESPN.com. He also appears regularly on "MMA Live," which now airs on ESPN2.