Brock Lesnar has had an incredible sporting career. Starting out as an amatuer wrestler, where he found great success before getting signed to the WWE in the year 2000. He won the WWE Championship for the first time in 2002, having completed his first season on the WWE main roster.
Lesnar sought out a career in the NFL in 2003, training as a defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings before getting cut before the start of the 2004 season. Lesnar sat in limbo for a couple of years, before pursuing the career that brought him the respect he has today from the mixed martial arts (MMA) world, when he joined “Hero’s” a japanese MMA organisation.
It wasn’t until the next year, in 2008, that he signed for the UFC. He started out with a loss to UFC legend Frank Mir, but bounced back with a win in his second fight. He had many more fights in the UFC, eventually claiming the heavyweight belt and going on to defend it twice. The name Brock Lesnar alone was enough to draw the attention of oddsmakers at many of the top sportsbooks in Vegas. There’s no doubt Lesnar is a beast. But, was he just some overhyped WWE fighter, or was he really a worthy UFC heavyweight champ?
What has Lesnar achieved?
Picking up from where we left off earlier, Lesnar had just won his second bout in the UFC against Heath Herring. It wasn’t until the tail-end of 2008 when Lesnar got the opportunity to fight for the heavyweight title. He would face Randy Couture, who possessed a far more diverse arsenal of strikes, at UFC 91. A fight he won, claiming the title and becoming UFC heavyweight champion. He defeated Frank Mir in a rematch, then at UFC 116 Lesnar defeated interim UFC heavyweight champion Share Carwin to become the undisputed heavyweight champion.
It went pretty downhill from there for the champ. He lost his title to the Mexican beast Cain Velasquez at UFC 121. He didn’t return to the octagon until UFC 141, when he would again be defeated by a young Alistair Overeem. This was the end of the road for Lesnar. He decided to retire from the UFC and MMA, leaving a legacy behind him. He did return briefly at UFC 199 to fight Mark Hunt via unanimous decision. Although he won the fight, Lesnar was found to have taken a banned substance.
It’s important to remember that around 2010, the UFC really wasn’t what we see today. These days we have champions from all over the world, with respected training camps popping up in areas of the world previously not considered as hotspots for MMA champs. As we’ve seen with current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, fighting for New Zealand and Nigeria.
Lesnar finished his professional career with a record of 5-3-0, which is very average. But he opened the world up to the UFC and MMA as a mainstream sports event. These days, every UFC main event draws in millions of viewers from across the globe and if these events were still open to spectators, they’d all be sold out. Although he only had 8 professional fights, Lesnar was part of some of the best selling pay-per-view events in UFC history.
But was he ever a worthy champion?
Well, of course, he was. Any heavyweight that manages to defend the belt twice is deserving of their title. Many critics would argue that Lesnar had no specific MMA attributes to his game that was particularly impressive; he didn’t possess a great ground game, his striking was average, and so on. There are those that claim his success in MMA was down to him taking PEDs (Performance enhancing drugs), but those claims are unsubstantiated until the Hunt fight.
Many would claim that he is just a freak of nature. A man that should have been born a gladiator in Roman times. But, no matter what people claim, he was the NCAA champ in wrestling and was an all American on numerous occasions. The fact he was willing to enter the MMA sphere and take on world-class martial artists like Cain Velasquez, deserves the respect of those in the industry. The fact he took part in the WWE will always look bad to the MMA purists. But, this man is a worthy champ and should be remembered as such.