Brock Lesnar walked into the UFC with one MMA fight under his belt & left almost four years later as a former UFC world champion with wins over elite heavyweights. Now retired, Brock’s UFC run begs to question whether or not Brock Lesnar should go into the UFC Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame is one of the most debated topics in sports. Whether it is football, baseball, boxing, or even the UFC, there is no shortage of opinions as to what a true Hall of Fame athlete is. Yet a look at Hall of Fame athletes in sports all over the world makes the criteria more muddy every day. The UFC Hall of Fame is no exception.
Before we talk about Brock’s Hall of Fame credentials, let’s take a look at the current roster of fighters in the UFC Hall of Fame.
Tito Ortiz (Dana said that Ortiz will go in the Hall of Fame when he retires)
A look at that list makes one thing abundantly clear. There is nothing clear or common about the credentials to be a UFC Hall of Fame fighter. Quite frankly I did not even realize that a couple of those names were on the list. Let’s break the list down and try and find some kind of common ground between the fighters.
Taking Charles Lewis out of the equation, everyone on the list but Royce Gracie is a former UFC champion. For Shamrock and Severn, it was the UFC Superfight championship while the other fighters held UFC class championships. Coleman only had one successful title defense as heavyweight champion. Couture and Hughes are the only fighters to have multiple title reigns. Gracie, Liddell, and Hughes are the only fighters on this list I’d claim that changed the game. Liddell is probably the only fighter on the list that has mainstream appeal outside of the UFC, although Randy could join him after a few more movie roles. In other words, this list is all over the place.
My gut instinct without looking at the list is that Brock is not a UFC Hall of Fame fighter. However once I look at the list and break it down I start to think much differently. I was a big fan of Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn’s during the early UFC days but Brock is certainly more Hall of Fame worthy than those two guys. As for Mark Coleman, you may as well get Brock’s plaque ready once you let him in because there is no way that Coleman is more Hall of Fame-worthy than the former UFC champion.
In terms of win/loss, Lesnar went 4-3 in the UFC. Those aren’t Hall of Fame numbers in itself, but you need to look closer at the numbers. Lesnar came into the UFC with one MMA fight under his belt and beat Frank Mir, Randy Couture, Heath Herring, and Shane Carwin. The wins over two former UFC world champions with little experience are huge in my opinion. Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Mark Coleman, and Tito Ortiz didn’t face the best as Lesnar did in their primes and come out on top as often as Brock. Lesnar had two successful title defenses, one more than Coleman had with the UFC title. But let’s forget about what Brock did inside the octagon, let’s look at the impact he made on the UFC outside of the events.
Let’s talk Royce Gracie for a moment here and I know I am going to open myself up for criticism from Gracie disciples for this one. Why is Royce in the Hall of Fame? For winning favorable matchups in the inaugural UFC tournaments? For being dominated years later by Matt Hughes? No, Royce is in for his contributions to the UFC and helping the UFC get off the ground. How about Brock Lesnar’s contributions? I would argue that Brock’s record of wins in the UFC are a lot more impressive than Royce and I would also argue that Brock did just as much to help grow the UFC if not more than Gracie.
Brock became the biggest draw in MMA history during his prime. He shattered previous numbers and opened the UFC up to new eyes, new markets, and a new audience. Whether it was because people liked him or hated him, Brock put the asses in the seats. Three years later and Brock still holds the record for the biggest UFC buyrate with his headliner at UFC 100. If you want to talk about a game changer, if you want to talk about a fighter that made just as much if not more of an impact outside of the octagon than inside, and if you want to talk about a fighter who became the biggest star in the sport, you have to talk about Brock Lesnar…and the guy did it in just a couple of years.
As the sports biggest draw during that period, Brock brought more fans to the UFC during that time than any other fighter before or after him. The numbers don’t lie and with those numbers came more money for the UFC and any fighter that fought on a Brock card, more exposure to mass sports media that recognized the casual interest in Lesnar, and brought more new fans to the UFC than any other fighter in company history.
Putting Brock into the Hall of Fame would make a lot of MMA fans angry. Unfortunately it isn’t their Hall of Fame. If the only people in the Hall of Fame were Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Matt Hughes, than I could see your argument. But you can’t tell me that Brock isn’t just as worthy as all of the other guys, one who with all due respect was not even a UFC fighter.
If Mark Coleman, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, and Tito Ortiz belong in the Hall of Fame, than there is no question in my mind that Brock Lesnar deserves the same honor for his contributions.