I may be in the minority here, but I am sad to see Brock Lesnar go. In the short period of time he competed in mixed martial arts he added so much excitement and even the negative attention he brought was a benefit to the sport. It’s easy to see by looking at the pay-per-views he fought on that he was a huge draw.
When he first signed with the UFC at the end of 2007 no one gave him much of a chance to succeed, let alone become a champion as quickly as he did in the world’s biggest MMA promotion. He had one fight under his belt and that was against Min-Soo Kim, a can among cans one might say.
He wasn’t looking for a handout; he certainly wasn’t looking for an easy way out either as he faced former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir in his UFC debut in February of 2008 at UFC 81. Much like his MMA career he came out like a house on fire and ran full force, going after Mir with reckless abandon.
He showed tremendous speed to go along with his amazing strength and size. Although he lost via submission, Lesnar put the rest of the UFC heavyweights on alert. With some proper training and experience Lesnar was going to be a tough test for everyone he met inside the Octagon.
He would go on to face 32 fight veteran Heath Herring at UFC 87 six month later. He dominated Herring from pillar to post, for fifteen minutes he abused Herrings mid-section with countless knees that had “The Texas Crazyhorse” peeing blood afterwards. Herring had faced a who’s who of top heavyweights in his day including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (3x), Fedor Emelianenko, and Mirko Filipovic, yet he had never been beaten so soundly.
With Randy Couture returning the UFC saw dollar signs and matched the two division champion with the hungry young lion at UFC 91. Couture was as game as they come, but couldn’t overcome the 65-pound weight difference and the 14 year gap in age. Lesnar caught Couture in the second round and hammer-fisted the championship right off of his waist.
A rematch with Mir was next at the historic UFC 100 in July. This time Lesnar showed just how far he had come as he took Mir down at will. Lesnar showed just how much he learned in less than eighteen months as he avoided Mir’s vaunted guard and punched Mir in the face over and over again. He may have shown his immaturity after the fight, but let’s not forget the amount of trash Mir talked and Lesnar felt vindicated.
The downward spiral would begin after this fight as he was forced to withdraw from a title defense against Shane Carwin at UFC 108 in January of 2008 because of an unexplained illness. We all know now that he was dealing with a severe case of diverticulitis and would not fight again until a full year after defeating Mir.
When Lesnar did return and faced Carwin was he even at full strength? Will we ever know if he ever was 100% in any of his fights? Carwin battered Lesnar in the first round before punching himself out and allowing Lesnar time to recover and regain his composure. The second round saw Carwin barely able to lift his arms and Lesnar took him down and locked on a Triangle Choke, a surprising move that again showed how much Lesnar had learned.
Cain Velasquez was up next at UFC 121 and once again Lesnar was beaten to the punch early in the first round, but Velasquez was smart and patient. He picked his spots and stopped Lesnar with less than a minute left in the first round. Lesnar was picked apart by the fans and media for being unable to take a punch and being afraid to get hit. That will always be the one area that he never improved upon and it hurt him immensely.
The UFC signed him as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter opposite Junior Dos Santos and the two were scheduled to meet at UFC 131 for the right to face Velasquez for the title. With less than a month left before the fight it was revealed that Lesnar was once again suffering from diverticulitis, this time he would have to undergo surgery to remove twelve inches of his colon. He vowed he would be back and better than ever.
That brings us to this past Saturday night at UFC 141 against Alistair Overeem. The consensus was simple; if Lesnar could get Overeem to the ground he would win the fight pretty handily, but if he had any problems at all Overeem’s world class striking would end Lesnar’s night very early. Besides one half-hearted attempt at a single leg take down, Lesnar chose to stand and was abused by Overeem’s knees and a kick to the liver that not only ended the fight, but according to Lesnar his mixed martial arts career as well.
Over the course of four and a half years Lesnar burst on to the MMA scene, won the UFC Heavyweight Championship and in just eight career fights fought the best heavyweights the UFC had to offer. How many other fighters can say they took on Herring, Couture, Mir (2x), Carwin, Velasquez and Overeem in such a short period of time.
Say what you want about Lesnar, the man took on the very best of the best. The man averaged over a million pay-per-view buys for the cards that he was on. UFC 100 which he co-headlined with UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre had 1.6 million buys. Whether you loved him or you hated him, you damn sure tuned in to see him. Never again will another fighter make such a huge impact in such a short period of time. So long Brock, I wish you were around longer, but I’ll take the time you spent with us.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC