The Rise and Fall of Brock Lesnar
Very few athletes have made such an impact on their respective sport in such a short period of time as did Brock Lesnar. Some people feel that Brock was good for MMA, while others thought he damaged the creditability of a sport that was (at the time) on the verge of mainstream legitimacy.
Understanding whether Brock was good or bad for the sport first warrants a look back at his record. Brock came into the UFC as a well-known WWE superstar, but very few thought of him as a legitimate contender against any true MMA fighter; people looked past his NCAA wrestling record and only saw the entertainer.
His first fight would go on to define the rest of his career. Yes, he lost the fight – but he fought top division competition, and up until he was submitted, he showed speed and power that was unexpected from the former paper-fighting champ. His next fight against Heath Herring was no less impressive with an opening punch that was heard around the world, and his first victory in the UFC. From there the legend of Lesnar started to grow.
Apparently, this first win warranted a title shot against estranged title holder Randy Couture. Lesnar looked like Oxen in the ring with a goat against Couture, and had little difficulty dispatching Couture. However, it wasn’t until he avenged his victory against Mir and captured the interim championship to unite the UFC HW title that people started to really see him as a legitimate fighter. His defeat of Shane Carwin sealed his position as the top HW in the world. Dana White had his golden boy at the top of the division.
Very few felt that anyone would have a chance at dethroning Lesnar anytime soon, let alone a much smaller HW in Cain Velasquez. Unfortunately, Velasquez put short work to Lesnar and with the loss so went a lot of his mystique. After being out for over a year Lesnar had his chance for redemption against Alistair Overeem - unfortunately, the fight would be Lesnar’s swan song.
the first question is: Was Lesnar’s time in the UFC good or bad for the sport? In my opinion, I think he was good for the sport and I am sad to see him retire (from MMA). Lesnar was a big name prior to coming into the UFC, and he helped to build visibility for the sport at a crucial time in its development.
More importantly, I really do feel that Lesnar put his money where his mouth was and backed up his words in the octagon. While he exits with a 5-3 record, he did fight no less than the top competition in all of his fights. I am sure he could have padded his record by fighting a few cans here or there, but Lesnar would only fight the best. Financially, he had nothing to gain by fighting the best, Dana White let him command the highest salary in the UFC no matter who he fought – but, Lesnar wanted to prove that he truly had the heart of a champion.
I’ll admit that I was furiously against Lesnar coming into the UFC at first, but as I saw him and prove that he was serious about the sport I came around to him. Part of the current state of UFC, and MMA in general, can be credited to the marketing of Lesnar – so, even if you hate his guts to this day, thank him for that.
… and that is the last word.