“Ladies and gentleman, I stand before you a humble champion.” Those famous words were said by none other than UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar following his shocking come-from-behind submission win over Shane Carwin at UFC 116, an event which saw Lesnar return from a long layoff due to a potentially career-ending and life-threatening battle with diverticulitis. Lesnar was able to battle back from the brink without getting life-altering surgery in what he, his doctors, and UFC President Dana White all refer to as a “medical miracle”. But how has the former bad boy been living up to those words? According to a new interview, he’s been living up to them just fine.
Here are the highlights from a new interview with the folks over at MMAWeekly: “With TV cameras, cell phones, Flip cameras, you’ve got to walk the line and be responsible. There is responsibility with being the champion. First and foremost, I have to be a good role model to my own kids… People are going to trip and people are going to make mistakes, that’s human nature. As long as you learn from those mistakes and take responsibility, what more can you ask for?”
All this coming from a man who once rode Heath Herring like a rodeo bronco, flipped off the crowd, endorsed the competition to one of the UFC’s biggest and most notable sponsors, and told Frank Mir “talk all the **** you want now” after pounding his face in. While I respect Lesnar’s sudden turnaround and commend him for adopting the values of a true champion, ultimately the man is no saint and he’s got a long way to go if he really wants to keep this image.
But here’s the thing: was Lesnar’s previous image really all that bad to begin with? Yes, I realize that professional athletes, especially top-tier professional athletes, should all be squeaky-clean role models so as not to corrupt the impressionable youth. But let’s not put our heads in the sand here. Everybody loves a bad boy. Brock Lesnar didn’t become the UFC’s biggest draw because he kissed babies and made nice with his opponents.
A huge amount of people that tune in to a Brock Lesnar fight do so because they hate his guts and want to see that cocky smile blasted off of his face. An equally massive amount of people tune in because they hate the cynics and want to see them get proven wrong. There is no middle ground with Brock Lesnar, the overwhelming majority either loves him or hates him. And no matter what, everyone notices him. He may not be the world’s greatest role model, but the last three UFC events Brock Lesnar competed in all surpassed one million Pay-Per-View buys.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for this Brock Lesnar “face turn” as so many of his former pro wrestling fans seem to be calling it. Lesnar deserves an incredible amount of respect for returning after such a debilitating injury, and especially for keeping his championship, and he likely wouldn’t have gotten it if he had been the same cocky Lesnar that caused such a stir at UFC 100. But I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I wasn’t entertained by Brock Lesnar’s antics before UFC 116. Brock Lesnar is a fantastic athlete, a great champion, and a wildly entertaining personality… no matter what that personality entails. As the biggest bad boy on the planet or as a humble champion of champions, I’m in Brock Lesnar’s corner no matter what.
And what about you, fans and friends? What do you think of this new, humble Brock Lesnar?