Brock Star – by Showdown Joe Ferraro
I never thought I would I say this, but in just his fourth professional fight, Brock Lesnar is the new UFC heavyweight champion. While the mere thought of it is mind-boggling, I had some to reflect and piece together an analysis of how it happened — and more or less why it happened.
Sitting Octagon-side during his historical bout vs. Randy Couture, you could feel the energy from the crowd as they cheered “Randy, Randy, Randy” throughout the main event. Every time there was an exchange, an explosion of emotion emanated from the MGM Grand Garden Arena faithful, but every time Lesnar landed one of those monstrous knees, it would poke a hole through Couture’s sails, while freezing the crowd into a momentary hush.
As the bout went on, Couture would fight valiantly, but Lesnar’s sheer power would thwart all of Couture’s takedown attempts, while chopping away at Couture’s gas tank. When the final right cross hit Couture just behind his left ear, I vividly recall seeing his body crumble and knowing he would need a miracle to survive what was about to happen to him.
As Lesnar pounced on Couture and began landing his cinderblock hammer fists, I spent more time staring at referee Mario Yamasaki then I did the finish of the fight. Once Yamasaki stepped in to halt the bout, I not only realized my prediction of “Couture in four” was wrong, but remember looking around at the rest of the media, shrugging my shoulders and saying, “I’m not surprised.”
I can’t say that I was shocked that Lesnar won, but I will say that I was very impressed with his performance, especially his striking game. Technically speaking, here’s a guy who looked very green in his fight against Frank Mir, then significantly improved in his standup against Heath Herring. In his bout with Couture, Lesnar threw crisp jabs and tight right hands taking full advantage of his 85-inch reach. After the bout Couture specifically told me he was able to replicate Lesnar’s size and strength, and that his power wasn’t difficult to deal with. It was Lesnar’s “go-go gadget arms” that Couture couldn’t prepare for.
Lesnar’s face and jaw were also tested in this bout as Couture landed a variety of punches, one cutting Lesnar for five stitches. After getting hit, Lesnar stated he was upset that Couture “drew first blood” and that it made him even more determined to finish Couture… and that he did. It was a stunning finish to the fight. I spoke with a variety of fighters after the bout and while most were in awe of Lesnar’s performance, not all of them are convinced. Canadian Jason (Dooms) Day summed up what many of the fighters are thinking:
“Brock is simply too big. He has a lot of athleticism and power behind him and now that he is getting better at MMA, he will be hard to stop. He did show he is improving and kept his composure well with Randy. Somebody needs to test his chin (more) before we get too carried away in the Lesnar phenomenon.”
Day’s comments got me thinking about an analogy: at 145 pounds, how would Urijah Faber do against a 205-pounder like Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Quinton (Rampage) Jackson, Wanderlei Silva or even Chuck Liddell?
I asked Dana White this very question while he visited the Sportsnet studio on Tuesday and his response was obvious. “He’d get killed. What’s your point?”
I explained to White, my point was simple: the difference in weight between Faber and the light-heavyweights was similar to what Randy Couture experienced vs. Brock Lesnar.
The analogy is not an exact one but simply a portrayal of the vast size difference between the fighters. There are other variables like experience, skill and quality, but I’m hoping you get my point. With Brock Lesnar having to cut weight to reach the maximum allowance for a heavyweight (265 pounds), is it not time there was some serious thought into bridging the 60-pound gap between the minimum and maximum set for the division?
Another common theme amongst the fighters was that Lesnar is still learning the intricacies of mixed martial arts, and that is scary. With time, he will only get better. His striking, clinch and submission game will only improve and that is a scary scenario for everyone in the heavyweight division.
Lesnar will have plenty of time to prepare, as he will most likely not see any action until March or April of 2009. His opponent will be determined on Dec. 27, at the UFC’s end-of-year show. The Ulimate Fighter 8 coaches will do battle as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will put his interm heavyweight championship belt on the line vs. Mir. When Brock was asked who he hoped would win the fight, his response was obvious: “FRANK MIR.”
I’ve seen all of Lesnar’s UFC fights live. I’ve seen Noqueira and Mir fight live. After what I saw on Saturday night, I seriously think Lesnar can beat both of them, and I never thought I would ever say that. Nogueira is notoriously a slow starter and even though he was able to survive severe punishment from Fedor Emelianenko, I do not believe he could do it anymore, against Lesnar. The same goes for Mir.
There are other names out there that Lesnar will be facing (Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin and maybe Gabriel Gonzaga), but the name that is already being thrown around is that of the legendary fighter he has already brushed off as insignificant: Emalienenko.
Lesnar doesn’t really care too much for Fedor’s mystique and appears more than happy to take on the “Russian Emperor.” Problem is, the UFC will not be signing him anytime soon. In fact, with the multiple attempts at trying to sign Fedor, White publicly admitted that he hasn’t even met him in person. That is not a good sign.
What this all means to me is that it will be awhile before anyone will be able to seriously challenge for the heavyweight title. Lesnar’s era as the UFC heavyweight champion has officially begun and I don’t see it ending anytime soon.