that Brock Lesnar was about to embark on a career in mixed martial arts, many snickered. Sure, he was a former NCAA Division I National Champion in wrestling, but that was in 2000. This was 2006, and a lot can change in six years.
But then some of the sport’s heavyweights, people who actually trained with Lesnar, started chiming in with their thoughts on him and his potential.
First there was former UFC champion Pat Miletich, who raved about Lesnar’s raw talent. Next was UFC lightweight champ Sean Sherk, who dubbed him a phenom.
“That cost me a thousand bucks,” laughed Lesnar, but such talk brought expectations along with it, and fight fans were getting patient to see the former pro wrestling star in action in MMA. Some would have crumbled under that type of pressure, both in and out of the gym.
“If people feel like they’re under pressure, it’s only because they put themselves under it,” said Lesnar. “I didn’t feel any, really. I thought, ‘hey, that was really nice of him (Miletich) to say that.’ I had gone down to their camp for two weeks, trained my ass off, and got bloody with top guys and didn’t back down. When I first came down there, I think it was like, here’s a guy who’s more famous than the guys in the locker room, and they’ve been busting their asses for four years. So there’s a lot of animosity. But I just came down there to be myself, be the hard working guy that I am, and not get cut any slack. I did every drill that they were doing, plus some, and I think I gained some respect up in their camp. The same with Sean. I trained up there in their facility, Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, and everybody’s like ‘what’s this all about?’ But when I’m showing up every day for the last year now…”
The 30-year old’s voice trails off, content that he has made his point. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme for him or a gimmick. He’s put in the long hours when the cameras aren’t around, and in his heart and his mind, he’s a fighter.
Now he just needed to show it for real in a real fight. Originally set to take on seven foot two Hong Man Choi at a K-1 event in Los Angeles in June, Lesnar was instead matched up with late replacement Min Soo Kim, an Olympic silver medalist in judo.
The fight was a blowout for Lesnar, who took Kim to the mat and pounded on him, forcing a tap out due to strikes in just one minute and nine seconds.
“I was just so happy to put my fist in some other guy’s face,” said Lesnar of his pro debut. “I felt like I was in heaven. It did go fast, 69 seconds, and it felt like it was five seconds.”
Of course, after such an explosive first performance, the question everyone had was, ‘what’s next?’ In Lesnar’s eyes, the next step had to take place in the UFC, and he wasn’t shy about calling out the top heavyweights in the organization.
“A lot of people say ‘well, he was just doing that to get attention,’” said Lesnar. “Well, I got some attention, so I got what I wanted. Now, the bottom line is, I want to fight, and I want some credible people and I want to beat them. What that does for me is, it makes me very credible. That’s why I did it – I want to fight good people.”
UFC President Dana White took an immediate liking to Lesnar.
“From the first conversation I had with Brock Lesnar, I was confident that he was gonna fight in the UFC,” said White. “He had fought in another show, and after he fought in that show, he realized what it was like to fight in a rinky-dink organization. Fighters and athletes of that caliber want to come to the UFC because this is the place to be. It’s the most professional, it’s got the best fighters in the world and if you want to make your name and cement your legacy, the UFC is the only place to do it.”
Eventually, a deal would get done, and last Saturday, the organization made it official, announcing on the UFC 77 pay-per-view broadcast that Lesnar was the newest addition to the UFC heavyweight division.
“If you want to go with the NFL of the fighting game, it’s the UFC,” said Lesnar. “It was an easy choice for me and I’m glad things worked out. We were able to see eye to eye, I want to be in this for quite some time, and they want to sponsor that and be a part of that as well, so for me, it was a no brainer.”
Added White, “I don’t think there are any other pro wrestlers that can make the transition to MMA, except for Brock Lesnar. And if you look at his amateur wrestling credentials, his size, and what he’s done, this guy can end up being a force in the heavyweight division of the UFC.”
There will be skeptics though, not only among fight fans, but among Lesnar’s peers, who may resent the promotional push that will undoubtedly be put behind a fighter who is already an established superstar on the mainstream stage.
“There’s gonna be jealousy and animosity, and people who think they deserve this or that, but that’s their own opinion,” said Lesnar. “This is business, this is a business decision for Dana and Zuffa, and it doesn’t fall on me – it falls on them. However they want to promote me, I have one job here, and that’s to fight.”
As for the fans who may be wondering what to expect from Lesnar, he says, “I think they should definitely view this with an open mind and I think they’re gonna see a lot of heart and a gifted, athletic heavyweight that the heavyweight division is in dire need of. I think they’re gonna see some exciting things from me. I do believe that. I’ve been training hard, I’ve got the right regimen down, and I’ve got the right people around me, so I’m gonna be prepared for anything.”
Who will that first opponent be? There’s no answer to that question yet, but if you ask Lesnar, he’s not too picky; in fact, he’ll take anyone the UFC gives him.
“I’ve looked up and down the entire roster, and I’m willing and ready to take on anybody,” he said without hesitation. “In my mind, I feel like I’m ready. People don’t really understand that I’ve been an amateur wrestler since I was five years old. I’ve been through all kinds of athletics and stuck with them, I’ve got an amateur wrestling background of 18 years almost, and some of these guys that are getting into fighting don’t have these kinds of backgrounds. Obviously I don’t think I’m ready for a title shot right away, but I will be there, and I’m not gonna turn down any opponent because I’m here to prove myself. I’m not here to pick and choose my fights. I’ll fight whomever they want. I don’t make the fights; that’s not my job. I’ve got one job to do and that’s to fight.”
That’s music to White’s ears, but that doesn’t mean he will be throwing Lesnar in against the division’s big guns immediately.
“I respect that,” said White of Lesnar’s desire to fight anyone. “What I’ve seen from Brock Lesnar and from what I know of him so far from the conversations we’ve had is that he’s a real fighter. He’s one of those guys who wants to come in and fight the best, but there’s a progression that you need to have. You don’t just throw them to the wolves. Now, Brock Lesnar is a monster. He’s huge, he’s powerful, he’s incredibly gifted, he’s a great wrestler, but you have to take a guy through the steps the right way. He’s got to face similar competition on his way up even though his name precedes him. Now he’s gonna fight tough competition. Is he gonna walk right in the door and take on (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira? No, but he’s gonna work his way up like Brandon Vera and any of these other guys who fight in the UFC did. The difference is, once you get in the UFC, nobody’s a joke. All these guys in all these other organizations are either guys that we’ve cut because they couldn’t hack it in the UFC or guys we didn’t want to sign.”
Strong words from the UFC boss, but in Brock Lesnar, White also has the type of fighter who is willing to back up his claims in the Octagon. Add in the Minnesota resident’s size, raw talent, name, and charisma – otherwise known as the ‘it’ factor, and we may just be looking at someone who may become the most visible and most feared heavyweight in the world in the coming years.
Now all he has to do is deliver on that promise.
Me myself think this shows his drive and potential, to get props from Militech is a good thing, plus the props from Sherk. I am surprised it didn't mention his training with Royce though. I think the hype is good I just hope he doesn't flop in there against a real opponent.
Thanks to whoever deleted that doubled thread dont know what happened there didn't mean to do that so thanks for changing it