Bellator and UFC are about to enter into an all-out bidding war over Brock Lesnar as his contract with WWE nears expiration, and for fans of MMA, it’s a “war” that makes no sense.
The repeated complaints you will hear among MMA fans — I’m talking about people who see a clear distinction between professional wrestling and an actual combat sport and believe “showmanship” should be secondary to merit — is that Lesnar had his chance and was proven unworthy of the big leagues.
Go to virtually any fight-focused message board and you’ll hear complaints like these.
“I’m sure Brock is a good wrestler, but MMA is a totally different animal. Brock is strong but not technical enough to last long in MMA.”
Of the brutal first-round Cain Velasquez loss — “A monster of a man gets wrecked by a much smaller less athletic looking guy because the smaller guy has way better technique. Brock was… a division 1 national champion wrestler, and by wrestler I mean real wrestling, not your fake WWE s*** and he still got humiliated.”
“The dude can’t box and when he’s being out boxed he balls up, that’s why he lost to Cain and Overeem.”
Looking at the trajectory of Brock’s career in MMA leaves little doubt where the skepticism is coming from. As large and dominant looking as Lesnar is, and as dominant as he appears in a WWE wrestling ring, his professional MMA career leaves little to be desired.
He was handed the UFC heavyweight title after being placed with the much smaller, much older Randy Couture in his fourth professional fight.
(That’s after losing one of those four fights in the first round.)
He followed that up by avenging his loss to Frank Mir, who was also well along in his career, both when he beat Lesnar and when he lost to him in the rematch.
In his next fight, he would survive a brutal first-round pounding to win a submission victory over Shane Carwin. At this point, he’s 5-1 and looking incredibly vulnerable. (And what kind of sport allows a title shot for a man who is 2-1 at the time?)
Dana White protected Brock as much as he could, but his vulnerabilities were on full display in TKO losses against Cain Velasquez and journeyman Alistair Overeem (who has 14 losses in his career, by the way).
There’s little wonder why fans of Bellator and UFC are groaning at the thought of a Lesnar return and at the idea that both companies would pay a fortune to get him.
Everything about Brock’s MMA career says that he will have to be protected if he returns to the UFC, and any success he sees won’t last beyond his first fight.
As for Bellator, that could be another story. While it’s largely looked at as the “lesser” of the two promotions, talent-wise, and Lesnar’s on-paper chances of making an impact would be better, it’s still highly improbable that Scott Coker’s organization lacks the talent pool to make Lesnar look as helpless as he did in his last two MMA fights.
Unfortunately, sometimes WWE fans — and yes, I consider myself one — get a little too exuberant with the “authenticity” of their entertainment.
Yes, pro wrestlers have to be tough, and there’s no faking the pain of a 20-foot fall from the top of a ladder through a table on the ground below.
But there’s a big difference between taking a scripted bump and stepping in a cage with a skilled fighter who could tear your arm out of the socket if he wanted to.
As a Bellator or UFC talent, Lesnar simply doesn’t measure up. That doesn’t mean I would want to fight the guy, but people have to be realistic. He belongs in MMA barely more than I do.
So what about it, Bellator and UFC fans? How are you taking the news that Brock Lesnar is likely coming back to the world of MMA? Any interest whatsoever?