Brock Lesnar does not look like the kind of athlete who would be afraid of anything.
Since coming onto the professional wrestling scene from NCAA stardom in 2000, he has been one of the most imposing figures in the history of sports entertainment.
He is also a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, who will be competing against salty challenger Mark Hunt at UFC 200.
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) June 10, 2016
Neither of these facts add up to the idea that he is “afraid to get hit,” as some UFC rivals have said in recent days. At least they don’t until you start looking at the fine print.
Before getting into that, here’s what is being said about Brock Lesnar and who is saying it.
Up first is Chuck Liddell, one of the legends of the UFC whose wars with Randy Couture are among the most storied in the organization.
Liddell was known as a heavy puncher during his prime, and he thinks that is precisely what Brock Lesnar fears the most.
In comments to Hollywood Life, Liddell credited Brock with being “a good college wrestler,” but said flatly that “he is afraid to get hit… very afraid of the punch,” and “when you have a guy that can punch (like Hunt)” and stop Brock’s takedowns, it is a recipe for trouble.
Another MMA legend and former opponent of Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, echoed this sentiment in similar comments.
“He doesn’t like to be hit,” Mir, the former two-time UFC heavyweight champion, said on the Phone Booth Fighting podcast.
“Not that anybody likes to be hit, but Brock for whatever reason has shown much more of a dramatic response to the negativity of those shots. To the point where he’s not asleep, it isn’t like he got knocked out, he’s not getting dropped, but he just turns his face away from adversity. That’s a bad thing when fighting Mark Hunt, who again I think is one of the hardest punchers in the division.”
For his part, Brock Lesnar seems confident going into the July 9 bout, claiming that if Mark Hunt “ends up on the ground, the fight’s over,” referencing his own superior wrestling abilities.
Still, Brock is not ignorant of Hunt’s dangerous striking game, as evidenced in comments to Fox Sports.
“It’s a tough challenge ahead of me,” Lesnar said. “I believe Mark has a tough challenge ahead of him. He’s never faced an opponent such as myself and I’m looking forward to this bout.”
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) June 17, 2016
While it may be easy to look at this and note that Brock Lesnar isn’t backing down from anyone, thus proving he’s not afraid to take a punch, all bets are off when one actually gets in the cage and starts throwing hands.
Liddell gave Lesnar credit for having the guts to get back into the UFC after brutal losses to Cain Velazquez and Alistair Overeem. But trying to prove something to yourself and actually being able to recover once clocked with a hard punch or kick are two different things.
Brock Lesnar certainly has the courage to compete, but in the heat of battle, it remains to be seen whether he will continue to be “afraid of the punch,” as Liddell puts it.
With several years out of the Octagon, Brock will find himself in an unlikely role for someone known as the “Beast Incarnate” in the professional wrestling world — that role being the underdog.
But what do you think, readers?
Does Brock Lesnar stand a chance of success at UFC 200 or is he in over his head against a guy like Mark Hunt?
Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image of Brock Lesnar via UFC]