Happy Retirement, Brock

1 Jan

Brock Lesnar was never shy about his motivation for becoming mixed martial artist; he wanted to make money and feed his competitive urge. He was able to accomplish those goals and claim a UFC Heavyweight title along the way.

Lesnar’s relationship with the UFC was a mutually beneficial one. They made him one of the sport’s highest paid fighters and he provided them with some of their best Pay-Per-View numbers. Maybe he was pushed into the title picture before he was ready or deserving, but despite the outcry from some hardcore fans about Lesnar getting a free pass, that is what the public wanted.

Combining his wrestling credentials with freakish size and surprising agility, Lesnar was a rare heavyweight, though his striking never developed and his path to victory was contingent upon him taking his opponents down. When he was able to (against Frank Mir and a gassed Shane Carwin) he utilized powerful ground strikes and impressive submissions. When he wasn’t able to (against a pre-gassed Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem) he looked like a former pro-wrestler who had no business in the cage.

His personality never matched his larger than life size save for his bizarre post-fight rant after defeating Frank Mir. On The Ultimate Fighter reality show he spent his time mentoring his team rather than feuding with his rival coach, Junior dosSantos. Lesnar shied away from interviews, and when he did give them his answers belied his looks, sounding more like someone you might work alongside rather than a former pro-wrestler and MMA fighter.

Lesnar was unique. Framing his story in any particular way, as a man fighting for validity after years in pro-wrestling, or as a UFC creation solely in the sport for the money, is unfair. Every one of his fights had a mystique that the fledgling sport sometimes lacks, and win or lose, the fans were never dissatisfied. I hope that he got as much out of the sport as the fans did watching him.

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