Last night in the main event at UFC 141 in Las Vegas, Alistair Overeem TKO’d Brock Lesnar in less than three minutes. Overeem landed flush with a kick to the body and it took all the steam out of Lesnar, who with the delayed reaction typical of a solid body shot, slumped to the octagon mat. He took a barrage of punches, but it was when Overeem threw a body punch with intent that the ref stepped in to stop it. In the post fight interview, Lesnar declared himself retired from the UFC. Overeem goes on to face UFC Heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos in a fight that should see Overeem come in as the favorite. But let’s look at the short career of Brock Lesnar here…
Lesnar is mainly known as a professional wrestler, as he entered that industry shortly after leaving college. In the world of pro wrestling, Brock found amazing success very early in his career. But something wasn’t right for him, and he left the WWE, even battling them in court at one point. The WWE would eventually let go someone who in 2004 and 2005 was their biggest star.
Lesnar would try out for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, where he was a late cut from the roster. It was at this point, after rumblings and rumors, that Lesnar turned to the Mixed Martial Arts for a career.
His first MMA match was a wash, taking place in a K-1 event against a Korean fighter named Min Soo Kim. Kim had a record of 2 wins and 5 losses at the time of the match. He had a high level of competition, but that simply gave him a proven track record of lasting a couple of minutes in match before succumbing. Perfect for a debut match that Lesnar can dominate.
It was from there directly into the UFC. After losing his UFC debut against Frank Mir, Lesnar did win four fights in a row against very high level competition. picking up the UFC Heavyweight world title on the way. Despite the streak, it seemed that several of the fights exposed weaknesses in his game. It would be Cain Velasquez who would defeat Lesnar next, wresting the UFC heavyweight belt away from Lesnar. And then came last night…
I had noticed it in the build up to the fight, and it certainly carried over into the fight – Lesnar was tense, uncomfortable. And when the fight started, his movements all seemed tension ridden and mechanical. Overeem for his part, was a very calm stalker. He exuded patience and confidence throughout the fight, and when he struck he did exactly what he envisioned – he took Lesnar out.
Much has been made of the old cliche “Lesnar does not like to get hit”. I watched the Spanish broadcast of the event, and the announcers repeated the mantra “Lesnar doesn’t like to get hit” throughout the fight. In fairness, I think the right thing to say is “Lesnar is not used to getting hit”.
Lesnar is famous for setting up training camp and bringing people in. He brings in good people. Rodrigo ‘Cumprido’ Medeiros is a phenomenal JJ practioner. Pat Barry is a skilled stand up fighter. The list goes on and on.
But he is limited to the people who can go to him – Barry and ‘Cumprido’ are both in that area. Lesnar does not go anywhere we he is not in control of the circumstances to train. So even with ‘Cumprido’ who is a wealth of talent, I don’t see Brock suiting up in a gi and working for his blue belt.
Likewise in the standup. He looked awkward and confused as he tried to be aggressive in the standup against Overeem. He looked like a guy who needs a lot of boxing and kickboxing sparring. Is Lesnar doing 6-10 rounds of sparring with the likes of Barry? I doubt it. I’m certainly not saying taking a shot like that from Overeem is easy, but his whole reaction looked like he had never been hit like that before. Why do I get the feeling that Overeem gets hit like that in the gym during training quite often.
So Lesnar teaches us the lesson again – physical talent can only take you so far. He leaves UFC with reportedly over $5 million in purses. Just like in pro wrestling, Lesnar made the big money early, and after grabbing a few fistfuls, he walks away not really having paid his dues.