“It’s pretty amazing to think that a 6’3ft, 300 pound man is as lean and athletic as Brock Lesnar was. Lesnar at 300 pounds was not a guy who carried any extra weight. Strong, great agility, great quickness. I’ve never seen anyone, as we did in Seattle, attempt a Shooting Star Press at 300 pounds. In my years in athletics, you don’t come across many Brock Lesnars. He is arguably the most physically gifted athlete to ever sign a contract with WWE”- Jim Ross WWE Commentator.
In the midst of outrage from UFC fans and fighters alike regarding Phil Brooks aka CM Punk’s move from World Wrestling Entertainment to the UFC, transitioning from the “fake” WWE to the UFC has become a hot topic rife with controversy.
With everyone from Nate Diaz to Joe Rogan weighing in on Brooks’ polarizing decision, I believe it presents a great opportunity to reflect on the career of another successful WWE crossover in Brock Lesnar. A heavyweight who moved like a flyweight, on paper, Lesnar’s modest 5-3-0 MMA record can be viewed as a relatively successful one, which included a run as heavyweight champion, that seen him in the process score notable victories over the likes of Frank Mir, Randy Couture and Shane Carwin. However, I believe the case of Brock Lesnar presents the biggest “what could have been” questions in the UFC today. One can only dream of the career and success Lesnar could have achieved in the UFC, had it been as big an organisation as it is today in the year 2000 when Lesnar decided to sign for WWE, or WWF as it was known back then.
Every MMA fan knows that wrestling and ground game is the single most important factor when you step inside the octagon, we have known this ever since UFC 1 when Royce Gracie showed the world that if you can’t master the ground game, you’re as good as done. And when it comes to wrestling, Brock Lesnar is a freak of nature. Like UFC Featherweight star Chad Mendes, Lesnar had a very successful college wrestling career and became a two time NCAA All American Champion, finishing his college career with an astonishing record of 106 Wins, 5 Loses.
Almost immediately after college and after meetings with NFL head coach Tony Dungy, WWE kingpin Vince McMahon flew a 22 year Brock Lesnar to the WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut to sign the biggest developmental deal in WWE history. In Lesnar’s autobiography “Deathclutch” he states: “I hadn’t even watched five minutes of pro wrestling in my life. All I knew is that I was a poor kid with student loans, and I was being offered more money than I had seen in my entire life”
The rest as they say, is history. Brock Lesnar went on to completely dominate the WWE for several years, becoming the youngest WWE champion in history while showing his devastating speed and power in the process. But the constant grind of the WWE was too much for Lesnar and he abruptly quit the company in 2004.
However, this is where one begins to contemplate what could have been if the UFC had signed Brock Lesnar in his prime. Today, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is the fastest growing sports organisation in the world and you can only imagine what an impact a 22-year-old Brock Lesnar, signed straight from college, could have had in the UFC. The raw power and freakish speed that a young Lesnar possessed is something that is nearly unheard of in the UFC’s Heavyweight division today.
Imagine a young, hungry Brock Lesnar signing with Team Alpha Male or Jackson’s MMA in 2016? I believe it would have paved the way for him to become one of the greatest UFC fighters ever. But as circumstances dictated, he signed for them at age 30 and still went on to become hugely successful in both victories and PPV buys. His revenge win over Frank Mir and his incredible comeback victory against Shane Carwin showing us just how much of an animal he really is, before life threatening diverticulitis cut his career short.
We only saw a glimpse of what Lesnar could do in his thirties inside the octagon, but imagine what he could have achieved if he would have signed for the UFC instead of the WWE? A hypothetical question that will never be answered, but it is indeed a mouth-watering notion.
But just as Jim Ross said, athletes like Lesnar only come around once in a lifetime. And now one can only dream of what could have been, but hopefully there are more Lesnar like specimens out there ready to make their mark in the UFC.