Brock Lesnar: A farewell to the former UFC Heavyweight Champ

5615376253 f404a48418If the words he spoke on Saturday night are to be believed, we have seen the last of Brock Lesnar in the Octagon.  In an MMA career that spanned just eight fights he accomplished more than some fighters do over much lengthier careers. Love him or hate him, you have to, even if it is begrudgingly, show some respect for what the man accomplished after joining the UFC after just one professional fight.

As Dana White recalled at the post UFC 141 press conference, “Brock Lesnar came to me one night here at the MGM and pulled me aside and said, ‘I want to fight in the UFC, and I laughed. He was 1-0 and came from the WWE.”

Perhaps wanting to send a message to Lesnar that he was not ready to fight with the big boys in the UFC, he first fight was against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir, and although Lesnar lost, he showed that despite having limited experience he was a game fighter.

Just a short time after that, he captured the UFC Heavyweight title with a TKO win over Randy Couture.  Lesnar then avenged the loss to Mir at UFC 100.  In his next bout, questions began to surface about his willingness to take a punch, especially from a heavy-handed fighter like Shane Carwin, whom he fought at UFC 116.

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Carwin landed a lot of heavy leather on Lesnar, but the champ ate it and after Carwin gassed himself out he earned his first submission in the UFC, forcing Carwin to tap to an arm triangle choke.

In his next fight, he once again showed a lack of enthusiasm for standing in when his opponent, Cain Velasquez, was able to land some heavy strikes. Perhaps learning a lesson from the Carwin fight, Velasquez was patient, picking his spots and earning the TKO win along with Lesnar’s title.

It was after that fight, while coaching on season 13 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” that Lesnar would fight a battle of a different sort after being diagnosed with a second occurrence of diverticulitis. Unlike his first bout with the disease, this one required surgery, surgery that removed 12 inches of his colon.

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Most would probably have reevaluated their priorities at that point, but Lesnar had a goal, get back that UFC gold.  The problem for Lesnar was that he had to first get past Alistair Overeem before he would get a shot at the UFC title he once held.

Lesnar fell short against Overeem, being buckled by a huge kick to the body and then finished by strikes after dropping to the mat.  After the fight Lesnar took to the mic and retired.

You could argue that during his short time in the UFC he never really proved that he was one of the best. You could say that he got by on strength and wrestling and was not a well-rounded fighter. You could even disparage him if you wanted to for coming from the world of the WWE. However, you cannot deny that he was one of the biggest draws in the history of the UFC. His pay per view events were huge spectacles, drawing over a million buys on several occasions. Lesnar put asses in the seats.

Was he good for the sport?  That depends on how you define good.  Surely he was good for the growth of the fanbase as many tuned in just to see him fight and that growth may have helped the UFC secure their deal with FOX.  Lesnar showed how one name fighter could generate a great deal of interest in the sport. On the other hand, some would argue that he set the sport back a bit, as some of his antics were carried over from the WWE, an example being his post UFC 100 tirade.

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Did the good of Lesnar outweigh the bad?  I’m not sure, but like it or not, Brock Lesnar does have a place in UFC history. Whether you remember him as “The Baddest Man on the Planet” or as the behemoth that fled when the going got tough, the fact remains that you will remember him.

Further Reading: UFC 141 Results Recap: Alistair Overeem batters Brock Lesnar into Retirement

Photo: UFC fighter Brock Lesnar during a portrait session before UFC 116 on June 30, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Francis Specker