Brock Lesnar is gifted athlete. His credentials speak for him. He's a former NCAA amateur wrestling champion, professional wrestling Heavyweight champion in WWE and came up just shy of making a spot on the Minnesota Vikings NFL football team. With mixed-martial arts taking off and becoming a viable option to Lesnar as a way of earning a living, Lesnar no longer has to consider returning to the insane traveling schedule that comes along with being a professional wrestler. It's an avenue to take the wrestling skills he's accumulated across nearly twenty years and further it into a career in combat sports.
On Saturday, June 2nd at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Brock Lesnar will do his part to help try and pack a building that seats nearly 100,000 people as he makes his debut as a MMA fighter. He'll be clashing with the 7'2'' kickboxer Hong Man-Choi in the semi-main event of the K-1 debut MMA show in the United States, which now has backing from Elite XC (and Showtime), Strikeforce and Cage Rage.
Yesterday (April 5th), MMANews.com's own Luis Cruz discussed this and more in an exclusive twenty-plus minute interview with Brock Lesnar. Below is part one of a two-part transcript. Thanks to “Smoogy” from the MMANews.com forums for providing the following text write-up of part one. Make sure to check back here later today for the second and final part of the interview.
BROCK LESNAR INTERVIEW – PART ONE
Luis Cruz of MMANews.com: This is Luiz Cruz of MMANews.com and I'm joined by the new MMA phenom, Brock Lesnar. Brock, what's up man?
Brock Lesnar: How are you doing?
MMANews.com: I'm doing good.
Brock Lesnar: Let's not call me “phenom” quite yet, [or] until this first one is over with! [Laughs]
MMANews.com: Hey, you're a beast dude. I'd call you a phenom. Now, before I get to MMA at all, I just have two quick questions for you about pro wrestling. The first one, a lot of fans wanted to know: Is Vince McMahon really as asshole to work with?
Brock Lesnar: Ah, well, no. I mean, Vince is the boss, you know? I made a lot of money. He runs a tight ship up there and he does what he has to do to run his business, and that's pretty much that.
MMANews.com: Alright, and the second question I have is, knowing him a little bit as a businessman, do you think he would actually dip his hand in the MMA bucket, try to maybe start a promotion or anything?
Brock Lesnar: I think if he was smart about it, he would do it. But you know, I think… I think it would be a wise choice for him to do that, MMA is exploding you know? It's big-time, but then again Vince McMahon is good at promoting wrestling, and I don't know if he could promote anything other than that.
MMANews.com: Alright. Now let's go ahead and move on. When did you become a fan of this sport?
Brock Lesnar: I've always been a fan of it. Since the first UFC, you know? I've always been watching just as everybody else was. I watched Royce Gracie create the legacy he created, and Ken Shamrock, Don Frye… all these guys that started the pavement for… to you know, started to make it is where it is today.
MMANews.com: At one point did you say to yourself, “I want to give this a shot”, was that before the NFL?
Brock Lesnar: Well, yeah. I would've gotten into it a long time ago if it would've been big, but when I was coming out of college I had a pretty good offer from Vince McMahon on the table and I wasn't going to go fight in some bingo hall or auditorium for two hundred and fifty dollars a fight, you know?
MMANews.com: I don't think anyone would disagree with that decision.
Brock Lesnar: That's where it was when I got out. Really, you've got to take your hat off to Dana White here, because mixed-martial arts has taken off and it is where it is because of the UFC. And Dana saw something with it, and took it – put it on television and made superstars out of these nobody guys that were at one time fighting in the bingo halls. He put their faces on TV and it just goes to show how strong television is.
MMANews.com: Did any certain fighter influence you? Did you look up to a Mark Coleman or a Kevin Randleman, or another wrestler?
Brock Lesnar: Well, I really liked to see the wrestlers do well since obviously I'm an amatuer wrestler myself, so yeah, I did follow those guys. And you know honestly, was there somebody out there that I really followed? No, honestly I can't say that, but I did pay attention to the wrestlers and was rooting for those guys.
MMANews.com: When exactly did you start training for mixed-martial arts?
Brock Lesnar: I started training last June. Thats when I decided that I was going to really give this thing 150-percent go ahead.
MMANews.com: A couple of names that I've heard that you've trained with, I don't know for a fact, this is just what I heard but – Royce Gracie, the Miletich camp, [Sean] Sherk and Josh Thompson. Are those pretty accurate?
Brock Lesnar: Yes. Yes, I actually started out looking for a camp. I went down to the Miletich camp for a couple weeks and then I decided that I wanted something a little closer to where I live, you know? I'm established in Minnesota – my family is here. I was on the road living in hotels, working for Vince McMahon, decided that I didn't want to be driving back and forth every week. So I found the Minnesota Mixed-Martial Arts Academy with Greg Nelson, and decided to compile Greg's background and Marty Morgan from the University of Minnesota, and took those two guys, and said, “make me into a fighter”. Here we are. I've got a fight coming up less than two months away, and at this point I feel like I'm well rounded, and I'm working on my training cycle right now to make sure I'm peaking at the right time.
MMANews.com: There was a rumor that when you were in the Miletich camp that you rolled a little bit with [Matt] Hughes, and that he got you in a rear naked choke. Now what from I read, or heard, you pretty much just got up and slammed him. Is that true?
Brock Lesnar: [Laughs] Don't believe everything you read or watch on television. [Laughing again] Matt Hughes is a tough guy, you know, and me and Matt did roll around, you know… Matt's the champion of all champions. So I mean, I'm not stirring anything up. Matt's a good guy – I like him and all of those [Miletich] guys are good. I enjoyed their camp, you know, but I'm not going to start anything here. That's nonsense.
MMANews.com: [Laughs] Alright. What's the comparison like in training between amatuer wrestling, pro wrestling, NFL, and mixed-martial arts? Like, what are some of the differences and similarities amongst them?
Brock Lesnar makes his MMA fighting debut for K-1 on June 2 in Los Angeles …
Brock Lesnar: Well… I've really got to say that basically I've done it all, you know? Like you said – amatuer wrestler, try-outs for the NFL, I was a professional wrestler. It's all very different and I would have to say that training for MMA has probably been a little more difficult for me, because of, you know… I really can't explain it but you have to be in really good shape to go out there and throw punches, and to be able to wrestle, and to do it all at the same time. I would have to say that MMA has been a great challenge. It's probably because I'm trying to cram so much into such a short amount of time. Football was a great challenge as well, but as far as conditioning-wise, I didn't have to be in that great a condition but it was harder for me to pick up on because I hadn't done it. Now, MMA involves a lot of wrestling, which I have done, I've got eighteen years of experience in it. But you know, it's learning to be able to throw punches, and be able to grab a hold of a guy and have enough grip strength and enough lungs left in you… you know, it's difficult. It's definitely not an easy sport.
MMANews.com: Lets talk about your training for a bit. You mentioned that you thought you were pretty well rounded now. Who have you been training with, mainly for your stand-up and striking game?
Brock Lesnar: Greg has been a big influence for me. And guys such as Sean Sherk, Nick Thompson… guys like that who have plenty of time in the octagon and in the ring. But Greg has been a huge influence, as far as working the strikes, I spent a lot of time with Greg, you know, working the bag. I've got sparring partners who've got experience [in] boxing, and Pat Miletich has helped me out and his gang, you know, his group of guys down there, with my striking and in the jiu-jitsu. So I've had a lot of guys along the way… mainly Greg.
MMANews.com: Are we going to see you utilize that striking a lot more than we might initially think, or are you going to just go with what works?
Brock Lesnar: I really can't say. I mean, anybody that's been in a fight… obviously there's a gameplan here involved, but… I'm going to just have to go with whatever happens out there, you know? If this guy can really defend my takedowns, then I'm going to have to stand with him, you know? I'm not lacking any confidence in that area.
MMANews.com: Now, speaking of going to the ground – how much did you learn from Royce Gracie
Brock Lesnar: I never said that I trained with him. I haven't trained with Royce yet. Our schedules haven't allowed us to be able to get together yet.
MMANews.com: Oh, I thought you mentioned him in the past, sorry.
Brock Lesnar: No, I haven't got to meet up with Royce yet. We've had conversations, trying to get together with one another, but it just hasn't happened. I'm going to try to squeeze it in, but now… I'm really focused on my training for this fight, and he's got a fight coming up, and if he can get together in time – great. But we will meet in the future.
MMANews.com: Alright. Now, is your current contract just for one fight with K-1?
Brock Lesnar: I have a one fight deal with K-1, yes.
MMANews.com: The UFC, PRIDE – either or, are you looking to fight for them sometime in the future, maybe when you're established?
Brock Lesnar: You know, I'm just focusing on this one fight. I've been happy with K-1, they've been great to work with, and I'm not speculating or starting anything in that area yet, you know? I'm just focused on this one fight. But I have spoken to those guys in the past.
MMANews.com: That's why I was asking.
Brock Lesnar: As of right now, no. I haven't conversed with anybody and I don't intend to until this fight is over with, or at least until a good time after that.
MMANews.com: Speaking of the UFC, let's say you did sign with them in the future. Can you make the 265 pound weight limit?
Brock Lesnar: Actually, I finished my workout today at 268.
MMANews.com: Oh wow, ok. So you trimmed down a lot.
Brock Lesnar: I'm lean and mean, baby!
MMANews.com: [Laughs] Now, what is your goal weight? Do you have a goal weight?
Brock Lesnar: I feel good. I'll come into this fight 270, you know, 265 ain't a problem. I feel good where I'm at. This is where I won my national title, at this weight, and I feel really confident at this weight.
MMANews.com: Alright, I thought you'd be a little bigger, but that's good. Now let's talk about your opponent – seven foot, two inch Hong-Man Choi. This is only his second MMA fight actually, in his career, and I don't think his first fight even lasted thirty seconds – if I remember correctly. Now, aside from him being almost a foot taller than you, what do you know about him?
Brock Lesnar: I know that, well, there's really not a lot to know about him. I mean, he's kickboxer. I've studied his tapes and I know that he's not the athlete I am – let's just put it that way.
MMANews.com: Is there anything at all that concerns you about him, like one specific thing?
Brock Lesnar: Um… well, everybody's as good as that one punch that connects, right? You know that, you've watched enough fights to. So, of course he's a threat – he's a big dude. Anybody that can throw big hands and land them is a threat, you know? So I've just got to avoid his hands.
Don't forget to catch part two of our exclusive interview with Brock Lesnar here at MMANews.com later this afternoon.