Thursday, January 5, 2012
There Goes The Pain: Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar stormed the Ultimate Fighting Championship to cheers and jeers in 2007. An incredible athlete, who excelled as an All-American Wrestler, a WWE "Sports Entertainer" and darn near became a Minnesota Vikings football player, decided to tackle this next challenge within The Octagon of UFC. MMA purists hated the idea; how could a "fake" pro wrestler even think to compete against some of the best of the UFC? Why would Dana White risk the integrity of his rapidly growing sport by "tainting" it with the connotation that a former pro wrestler would bring with him? Was there anyway Brock could succeed or this could work to begin with?
I don't intend for this entry to recap Lesnar's UFC career. It was successful and unfortunately it was hampered by two bouts of diverticulitis (October 2009 and May 2011). Brock Lesnar, if nothing other than in name alone, gave another nudge to the growth boom that UFC has and still is experiencing. I am sure he brought new fans to the sport. Much like Floyd Mayweather Jr. (seemingly the last hope for boxing), Lesnar knew how to get fans to love him or hate him. This was no doubt a mixture of his natural attitude mixed with his WWE history.
I know that was Brock Lesnar was scheduled to fight, I made it a point to watch...and many others did too. People paid money to buy pay-per-views. People showed up in big numbers, in arena and in sports bars alike to see his fights. I'll not make any claims to being a "die hard" UFC or MMA fan, but Lesnar's involvement allowed me the chance to get more invested in this incredible sport and become a much more passionate UFC fan than I was before his tenure. And I plan on sticking around.
No matter what the footnotes to his UFC career are (in no particular order): incredible athlete; brash and cocky; not interested in developing a well-rounded game; can't take a punch or body blow; Heavyweight Champion; villian - Brock Lesnar will have a legacy in the UFC. Dana White was not an "idiot" to bring him in. Lesnar was at the forefront of a boom of athletic heavyweight fighters and should always be remembered for that as well.