Don’t count out a Brock Lesnar return to the UFC just yet. UFC president Dana White recently addressed the media and the subject of the former UFC and current WWE superstar returning came up. If it was up to the prez, he’d welcome him back in a minute.
White addressed a number of subjects with the MMA media on Thursday. Not surprisingly, the topic of Brock Lesnar came up. Lesnar and White made news a few months back after their infamous meeting. According to White, the meeting didn’t go well.
“The meeting we had didn’t really go very well. It wasn’t a great meeting. It was probably one of the worst meetings we’ve ever had with Brock Lesnar. I honestly have not talked to him since, so I don’t know where we are at. All the stuff you are seeing on the Internet is typical Internet bullsh*t. I don’t know. It was really bad. It was the worst meeting I’ve ever had with Brock Lesnar. In my opinion, it couldn’t have gone worse.”
“The meeting did not go well. Probably the worst meeting we’ve ever had with Brock Lesnar, and I haven’t talked to him since.” White wouldn’t get into the specifics, “It’s one of those things (where) it’s not worth getting into it publicly,” he said. “It’s not worth getting into the B.S. over it.”
At the time I speculated that those rumors could be planted by White to throw off the media and deflect any potential contract tampering issues. Although I could never see that being an issue since the UFC could have held onto Brock’s rights in the first place. Whether that was the case or not, White was not as coy this time around.
White was asked whether Brock would be welcomed back to the octagon when his WWE deal is up. White responded.
“His deal with us was done and that was it,” he said. “Sure, I would bring Brock back. If Brock wanted to fight in the UFC, I would do it.”
I don’t think the answer is a real shock to anyone. Of course he’d take him back. Dana recently listed the biggest draws in the UFC but left Brock off. However, the fact of the matter is that Brock was the biggest draw the UFC ever had. The record set for UFC 100 headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir is still in standing over two years later and in no danger of being broken. Why wouldn’t Dana welcome back his biggest all-time draw?
But would Brock even go back? Brock reportedly signed a $5 million deal with the WWE for one year and limited dates back in April. Brock’s deal will be up this April and at that time he can negotiate with anyone. Just this week the estimated SummerSlam 2012 buyrate leaked which saw a dramatic increase in buys, credited to Brock Lesnar. Would Brock make more money in the UFC? Probably, but would it be worth the work he’d have to put in for camps? If Brock can get a better deal, say $8 million for one year and limited dates from the WWE, it would be hard for him to turn that down to return the grueling world of MMA.
Although I should point out that this interview only helped Brock’s WWE negotiations. For all I know this was a favor from Dana to Brock but that is a bit cynical I will admit.
The UFC desperately needs Brock’s star-power. There are less mega-draws than ever in the UFC. The heavyweight division in particular is a three-man show at this point with Alistair Overeem, Cain Velasquez, and Junior Dos Santos. Brock vs. Frank Mir in a third fight could meet or top their number set at UFC 100. That is a lot of money for Brock Lesnar and the UFC to leave on the table for one camp and one fight.
Brock’s health is always a concern. Brock can work a limited WWE schedule without a problem at this point. Wrestling once every three months and training in a lengthy camp are two very different things. While Brock has never ruled out a return to fighting, it may be something physically he just can’t do at this point in his life.
April 2013 is going to be a very fun month to follow Brock Lesnar, that’s for sure.
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.
Brock Lesnar is a name that will always remain polarizing in MMA. Lesnar had the dual distinction at one time of being the most hated fighter in MMA yet being the biggest drawing card the sport has ever seen. Lesnar’s credentials were questioned from day one whether it was getting a UFC contract, getting a UFC championship shot, and now whether or not Brock is a Hall of Fame fighter. While the debate among hardcore MMA fans may be simple, an objective look makes this a puzzling question.
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.
I think Brock Lesnar gets into the UFC someday. Dana White is a money guy and at the end of the day Brock brought more money to the UFC in a shorter time period than anyone else that has ever stepped into the octagon. Some in the MMA community may not appreciate what he achieved but I think the people in charge are smart enough to reward Brock for his MMA accomplishments in and out of the octagon.
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.
Brock Lesnar officially retired from MMA after suffering a TKO loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141 & is back in the WWE. In just a short span of four years Lesnar conquered the world of MMA competing at the highest level and winning a world championship. Lesnar’s run in the world of MMA is nothing short of remarkable.
It is entirely possible that Brock Lesnar’s UFC career is over. Choosing not to get surgery is practically announcing his retirement. Even if Lesnar does get surgery, the operation is invasive and could put Lesnar on the shelf for over a year, missing a critical amount of time at this stage of his career. In all likelihood the world of MMA has probably seen the last of Brock Lesnar as an elite heavyweight.
So today I look back at one of the most amazing short careers in MMA history. His accomplishments should be recognized whether you like Lesnar or not as nothing short of great. Fighters train for years and accomplish much less than what Lesnar did. Here is a quick look back at the MMA career of Brock Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar vs. Min-Soo Kim, Dynamite!! USA June 2, 2007. Casual MMA fans probably don’t even realize that Brock Lesnar did have one MMA fight outside of the UFC. A number of MMA promoters booked the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for one of the biggest MMA events in history. Half would air on pay per view while half would air on Showtime. Brock Lesnar’s first MMA fight would air live on the pay per view portion.
I look at this Lesnar’s UFC audition. There were plenty of rumors at the time about Lesnar and the UFC. Dana White was hesitant to pull the trigger for obvious reasons. WWE wrestling fans were incredibly excited about seeing “one of their own” make the MMA leap. Min-Soo Kim would become the sacrificial lamb for young Lesnar.
Kim was an Olympic silver medalist in Judo so it was kind of odd to see Lesnar shoot in immediately on Kim. Lesnar dominated him on the ground and passed his guard with ease. Lesnar just started raining down strikes on the former Olympiad. Kim shockingly tapped out as Lesnar was beating the daylights out of him. To this day it remains one of the weakest tap outs I have ever seen in MMA, but any doubts about Lesnar’s potential in MMA were answered in 1:09 of Round 1. The word was out, Brock Lesnar was for real.
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir UFC 81: Breaking Point, February 2, 2008. This was Lesnar’s UFC debut and let me tell you, the UFC weren’t shy about promoting Lesnar’s WWE past. A collection of WWE stars right out of Legends of WrestleMania were show in the building throughout the night building a WWE vs. UFC theme for the fight. Lesnar was even announced as a former WWE champion with old wrestling footage to boot. It was certainly quite a spectacle indeed.
What I remember most about this fight is that in the weeks leading up to it and in my writings on phillyburbs.com I never believed Lesnar could beat Frank Mir. I thought Mir was too experienced here and that Lesnar would go into the fight over confident. I remember getting into several arguments with callers on my radio show about it, yet I didn’t think it was a huge revelation. Well, in this case I was right.
Lesnar bull rushed Mir and opened up with the same ferocity he unleashed against Kim. Lesnar dropped Mir pretty quickly and the Las Vegas crowd went nuts. Could an inexperienced athlete beat a credentialed former UFC champion in his second fight? Nope. Mir was too smart for him and caught Lesnar with a kneebar. Mir showed a lot of guts looking for a spot as strikes rained down on his head. Mir tapped Lesnar in 90 seconds to a stunned crowd. Was Lesnar exposed as a fraud or did he just need more time to learn? The MMA world would find out six months later.
Brock Lesnar vs. Heath Herring UFC 87: Seek and Destroy, August 9, 2008. Quite honestly Lesnar should have fought someone more along the lines of Herring in his first fight, not someone as experienced as Mir. Herring is certainly no pushover as he came very close to beating Antonio Nogueira a year earlier. A loss here could have been devastating for Lesnar. I would argue that this was the biggest fight of Lesnar’s entire MMA career as anything less than a win or solid effort would have jeopardized his high UFC contract.
Like every fight in his career, Lesnar charged the Texas Crazy Horse early in the fight. He missed a flying knee but rocked him with a punch that busted Herring open. To me, he broke Herring’s will at that point and Heath was just trying to survive. Brock held Herring down and mauled him for the rest of the fight. Lesnar had Herring’s back for most of the fight but seemed content on just riding the Texas Crazy Horse out for three rounds. The fight ended with Herring making a last ditch attempt to run at Lesnar with Brock laughing in his face as the bell rang. It was pure domination by Lesnar.
The win was huge for Lesnar. For one, it answered a lot of questions about his cardio and stamina. Lesnar had only fought twice before this, with both fights ending in less than two minutes. Lesnar never gassed out, well at least enough for Herring to take advantage of. Two, Lesnar really showed what an intimidator he can be in the octagon. Three, he never had to look back from this point on in regards to being cut from his contract following a loss. Four and maybe most important, Lesnar established himself as a hell of a heel by laughing in Herring’s face and asking the crowd, “Can you see me now?” It wouldn’t be until Lesnar’s recovery from diverticulitis a few years later in which he would be accepted by the MMA fans as a babyface.
Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar November 15, 2008. This was the shortest time between fights for Lesnar. Randy Couture returned after a lengthy absence to defend the UFC championship against Lesnar. Many hardcore MMA fans were angry feeling Lesnar didn’t deserve a title shot with one win and one loss. They were right but it didn’t matter as Brock Lesnar would become world champion with only a little more than one year of MMA experience against a man that had been fighting for eleven years.
This was a real physical mismatch on paper with Lesnar maintaining a 57 pound weight advantage over Couture. That is why fans were shocked and excited to see Randy Couture hold his own for the first round. The first round saw Couture get in some dirty boxing and an elbow, appearing to confuse the much bigger Lesnar. Couture got Lesnar’s back at one point in the first round and the crowd just went absolutely ballistic. The UFC hero against the WWE villain. At one point, Couture almost threw Lesnar towards the end of the first round. The round ended and the fight looked anything like the slaughter that most people were expecting.
The slaughter came in Round 2. They started out once again back in the clinch with each guy looking for an advantage. Couture drew blood and opened up Lesnar above the eye. At this point in the fight it looked like one of the greatest David vs. Goliath upsets in sports history. That was until Brock got mad. Brock rocked Couture hard with a shot and an uppercut. Lesnar nailed Couture who stumbled and allowed Lesnar to swarm in for the kill. Lesnar finished off Captain America and did the unthinkable, winning the UFC heavyweight championship.
After the fight Lesnar said, “He’s got a lot of balls to take a year off and fight a young buck like me. I believe in hard work and it pays off. I may come across as cocky, but I’m confident. The Lord gave me this body and my mind,” and the place still booed him. The fans hated to see this former pro wrestler walking around with their belt. Unfortunately it would be a long time before anyone would do anything about it.
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir UFC 100: Lesnar vs. Mir II, July 11, 2009. This was the first and only real grudge match in Lesnar’s MMA career. Lesnar and Mir developed a very real rivalry between the two fighters that was exposed on UFC’s countdown show as well as pre-event press conferences. Mir dismissed Lesnar as a joke while Lesnar was enraged at the constant reminder of his first and only MMA loss to Mir. The grudge match would turn out to be the biggest fight in UFC history, shattering records that close to two years later still haven’t been broken.
I had this one all wrong. I thought Mir would take him out with a submission early or even stand up with him. Lesnar took Mir down early in the first round. Lesnar had Mir trapped with an arm locked, leaving his face wide open. Lesnar just unloaded on a helpless Mir for most of the round. Mir later said he was working for another kneebar here but he just looked defenseless. Mir could do nothing against the size and strength of Lesnar who seemed to take particular enjoyment with every brutal punch he dropped on Mir’s face.
Mir’s face already looked like a wreck going into Round 2. Mir went for broke and tried to stand up with Lesnar. The two went down and once again Mir was trapped. Lesnar used his power to dominate Mir against the cage. Lesnar punched Mir’s face until he knocked him out. It was the biggest statement made that Lesnar had ever made in his MMA career. Don’t screw with him or you are going to get hurt!
The action continued after the fight. Even the most bitter rivals hug after a fight understanding that hype=money. Brock Lesnar is no hugger. Lesnar immediately got in Mir’s face and said, “talk your sh*t now!” Lesnar had to be pulled away by several security guards. The live crowd went nuts with a chorus boos which was met by Lesnar telling the fans that they were all number one. Lesnar was certainly not going to win the 2009 Most Popular UFC Fighter award.
Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin July 3, 2010. This was promoted as one of the biggest fights in UFC history. Up to this point Lesnar had always greatly outweighed his opponents. In this fight, Lesnar would have no significant weight advantage. In addition, Lesnar just looked unstoppable in his last three fights. Carwin on the other hand was riding a streak of five straight knockouts. If styles make great fights, this one had the potential to be a heavyweight classic.
This was one of the most impressive wins you will ever see in MMA. Shane Carwin destroyed Brock Lesnar for the first round. Carwin caught him with an upper cut and just dominated Lesnar for the entire round. Carwin sat on top of Lesnar and dropped down hammers and elbows. Lesnar was cut bad and looked like he was out of it at one point. The onslaught gassed Carwin out by the start of Round 2. Lesnar finally got a takedown in Round 2 and dominated him on the ground. Lesnar was able to mount him and secure an arm-triangle choke on Carwin for the tap. This was a gutsy performance!
Carwin made himself a star that night. For the first time since Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar 1, Lesnar looked human. Even with his matching power and wrestling acumen, Carwin was still no match for Lesnar in the end. Carwin and Lesnar will likely meet again at some point. Shane Carwin is just too good to go on an extended losing streak so whether it is for the UFC title or not, I see a rematch between these two guys at some point down the road.
It was also a big turning point in the polarizing relationship between Brock Lesnar and the MMA community. Lesnar came into the fight and walked away a humble man after a career-threatening battle with diverticulitis. Lesnar’s comeback in Round 2 after being obliterated with strikes from Carwin was something even his biggest critics could appreciate. The crowd opened their arms to the UFC champion and the champ returned the embrace. A love affair was born.
Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Valasquez October 23, 2010. Who knew that this could very well be the final fight in Brock Lesnar’s career? Lesnar came into the fight a big favorite. The hardcore MMA fans were behind Velasquez, while the casual audience slept on the challenger. Most experts predicted that the only way Cain could win was to tire out Lesnar in a long, grueling, five-round fight while UFC fighters predicted a quick knockout by Velasquez. Sometimes those crazy fighters know what they are talking about.
This fight went exactly as most fighters predicted. Brock came out immediately and charged Velasquez. Lesnar connected on several shots and took down Velasquez. Velasquez stayed calm, returned to his feet, and waited for an opening. Cain Velasquez then started connecting on shots, dropped Lesnar, and won the fight via TKO at 4:12.
I wouldn’t call it a great fight, but I would call it one of the most exciting rounds in UFC history. This fight was very similar to Lesnar vs. Carwin. Lesnar was down absorbing a ton of punches from Velasquez. The only difference here is that you had a smarter fighter in Velasquez who picked his shots and didn’t tire out. Referee Herb Dean seemed hesitant to stop it and probably gave Brock more time than he deserved. All in all, Lesnar was dominated by the more skilled fighter.
Of course the fight is also memorable for a post-fight confrontation between Lesnar and WWE star The Undertaker. Many reports confirm that the WWE was planning to match Lesnar vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania 27. The match was scrapped when Dana White refused to give Lesnar permission to lace up the pro wrestling boots.
Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem December 30, 2011. This was one of those fights that you knew wasn’t going to last long and it didn’t. While you didn’t get your money’s worth inside the octagon, you certainly got your money’s worth in atmosphere and anticipation. This fight had something that the UFC has been missing for quite a while and that is the emotion in and out of the octagon of a big time fight. It wasn’t long but it likely will never be forgotten.
The story going into the fight was simple. If Brock could take Overeem down, he’d likely win. If Overeem could keep this one up top, he would likely win and that is what happened. Lesnar and Overeem started off with a few missed shots. Lesnar went for the single leg takedown which Overeem blocked beautifully. Overeem nailed a few knee strikes on Lesnar early which appeared to hurt the former champion. At that point it looked like Overeem’s game plan was to tie up Lesnar in the corner, pulverize him with knee strikes, and drop the big man. Eventually that is what happened. Overeem followed a few knee strikes with a kick to the liver that rocked Lesnar. Lesnar dropped, Overeem swarmed in with strikes, and the fight was stopped at 2:26 in favor of Overeem.
It is impossible not to relive these memories and appreciate what Lesnar achieved in such a short time in MMA. If it is the end of the road, Lesnar has nothing to be ashamed of. Like him or not, the sport will not be the same without him.
I don’t think there is much argument that as an overall business, the UFC is doing far better than boxing. Other than Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather, there are no other fights in boxing that would come close to doing that business. There are some big fight possibilities for the UFC throughout 2010. However, is there anything now or in the future that could breakthrough and find mass appeal for the UFC like Mayweather vs. Pacquiao would for boxing?
Here are a few fights and scenarios that would present the UFC with some great options. Unfortunately none of these fights as things stand today are likely to generate three million buys. Yet, there are some great possibilities in the cards that could break two million for the UFC. Let’s take a look at potential blockbuster Mega Fights for the UFC over the next several months.
Rashad Evans vs. Rampage Jackson - Have you seen the commercial for UFC 114? I can’t recall any fight with better hype in 90 seconds in the history of the UFC than Rampage Jackson vs. Rashad Evans at UFC 114. The fact that people are buzzing about this fight a week before one of the most anticipated MMA rematches of the year speaks volumes to me. The delay in the fight thanks to Rampage Jackson’s budding acting career won’t make much of a difference. The interest is there and this fight has some serious potential to break records set at UFC 110. But can it break two million buys? I don’t think so.
In the perfect scenario, the Rampage vs. Evans UFC 114 fight will be an exciting fight whether it lasts one round or three. In an even more perfect scenario, the winner loses his next fight and the loser wins his next fight, thus pushing a rematch at the big year-end December UFC show. In the perfect world, the loser of UFC 114 wins, thus forcing a trilogy in 2011. The trilogy would be the money fight here in my opinion. A third and deciding fight would push or break two million buys for me. Of course things rarely goes as planned in MMA, so chances are this won’t happen. But if it did, the UFC would have a monster on their hands.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar - Here we go again. This is the closest fight that MMA has to Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. What seems like such a natural fight to make has been an absolute nightmare to make for UFC president Dana White. Skeptics point to Fedor Emelianenko’s lack of drawing power on pay-per-view as a reason that this fight won’t appeal to casual MMA fans. I don’t buy it. Between Brock Lesnar’s ability to cut promos and the UFC’s ability to air Fedor fights through the Pride FC and Affliction libraries, I think this fight has more potential than any other to break two million buys.
The timing was perfect last summer after Lesnar destroyed Frank Mir and Fedor Emelianenko became a free agent. Unfortunately things didn’t work out, but there will be other opportunities for Dana White to make this fight. I will go out on a limb and give the window of opportunity here until mid-2011 to get the most out of this matchup. Whether this fight happens in 2010 or 2013, it will be a draw but I don’t think the Mega Fight appeal will be there if this fight doesn’t happen by next summer. If it does, it has the potential to be the biggest drawing series in MMA history.
This more than any other fight is MMA’s Mayweather vs. Pacquiao both in and outside of the ring (or octagon in this case). You have two guys here that seem to be on another level as compared to their competition in the weight class. Also like Pacquiao and Mayweather, both guys cannot lose until this fight happens or risk losing millions. Fedor even more so due to his lengthy winning streak. Like Mayweather and Pacquiao who will lose millions if either one of them lose before this fight is made, Fedor’s appeal will take a big hit if he comes into this situation with a loss. It is a tough situation to be in, but Fedor has nobody but himself to blame for that.
Anderson Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre - Let me make one thing perfectly clear about this fight. I think it would be a disappointing fight to casual fans because of the styles. There is also a huge risk when one guy either has to cut or gain that much weight for such a big fight. One of these guys is likely to have some cardiovascular issues, thus this could be a boring, grueling fight to casual fans while hardcore MMA fans would eat up every second of it.
The fight seems like a natural to me. Here are two guys that have dominated their respective divisions and have no serious challengers on the horizon. I think with such little separation in weight between two elite fighters, the fight would be a natural. For some reason, the UFC has done everything in their power to avoid making this fight. The fact that GSP was out at ringside during Anderson Silva’s match at UFC 112 tells me this one was close to happening before Dana White pulled the plug.
I think these guys have the kind of appeal that crosses into the casual sports world to make this a blockbuster fight. The only drawback here is that unlike Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson who will sell this fight with their promos, you have two guys who don’t cut good promos. GSP is not a great promo guy and Silva doesn’t speak English. None of these things make a difference to hardcore MMA fans, but casual fans may not have anything to sink their teeth into. I do think this fight would eclipse the UFC 100 mark, but I don’t think it would break two million buys because of a) the promo issues and b) Anderson Silva’s UFC 112 performance. If Silva can have an exciting fight against Chael Sonnen, all will be forgotten but at this rate, that is a big if.
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir III - If you thought this fight was dead, you have another thing coming. I think this fight is more alive than ever after recent events. If the rematch shattered records at UFC 100, a deciding fight should break it. Yes, Frank Mir lost to Shane Carwin and will have to win at least two more fights to fight for the UFC heavyweight title. But, what happens if Shane Carwin or Cain Velasquez beats Brock Lesnar? It is far from a guarantee that Lesnar will be able to go 2-0 in his next two fights. All Frank Mir needs is one win and he is back in the Brock Lesnar game.
Cain Velasquez has already been promised the match against the winner of Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin. So, if Brock Lesnar loses he will need at least one fight before he gets a rematch. What a great storyline for a Mir vs. Lesnar III. Unlike GSP vs. Anderson Silva, these two guys can cut arguably the best promos to hype a third fight in the history of the UFC. Brock Lesnar is an incredibly polarizing fighter, and all you need to do is show a casual fight fan a tape of Lesnar post-UFC 100 in Mir’s face to get him or her interested. I do think that the UFC missed the opportunity at two million the second Frank Mir got knocked out at UFC 111. Yet I do think that between the history, the personalities, and the rivalry that the UFC would have a blockbuster of a third fight on their hands should we ever see Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir again.
Brock Lesnar vs. Anderson Silva - I know I am out to left field with this one, but this fight has some serious potential. Anderson Silva has been making noises about moving up to heavyweight for a while now. I can’t see how a man that fights at middleweight could move up to heavyweight and keep his power and quickness intact, but I’d love to see him try. Brock Lesnar will have to carry the promos, but that is no problem because like him or not, he is one of the best in all of sports at hyping a fight. I don’t even know if this one would get sanctioned in the United States, but the freak factor here is enough to draw some crossover appeal into the sports world. If Brock Lesnar wins his next two fights, and Anderson Silva moves up and wins one fight at heavyweight, this fight is a lock for 2011 and some very big business.
Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn III - First of all, this one is further away from happening than ever thanks to Frankie Edgar. There usually isn’t a lot of interest in seeing a third fight between two guys that fought twice before with the same before, but this would be the exception. Between BJ Penn’s abilities to sell a fight and the accusations of GSP being greased up at UFC 94, I think this is one of the few times that a scenario like that could work.
Like Frank Mir’s obsession with Brock Lesnar, BJ Penn has been obsessed with GSP since UFC 94. Some would argue that it was Penn’s obsession with GSP that allowed him to look past Frankie Edgar towards a likely GSP rematch. The deal here is that both of these guys appeal to the mainstream and casual fans know exactly who both of these guys are. Their last fight was so dominate that whether GSP greased or not, even Penn’s own critics acknowledge that there may have been something fishy with that fight because it was just too one sided. If Penn can beat Edgar at UFC 118, I think this match happens either in December or early next year.
I know that the winner of Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard has been promised a title shot. But, Dana White is no dummy and he knows that there is very little interest in a Florian vs. BJ Penn rematch. If Maynard wins, I think Penn fights Maynard next (given he beats Edgar). If Florian and Penn win, I think Dana White holds that fight off and shoots right to GSP vs. Penn. GSP vs. BJ Penn III will happen, it is only a matter of when, and when it does it could easily break two million buys.
While these are some great possibilities, a lot would have to happen to turn these UFC fights into blockbusters like boxing’s Mega Fights. None of those fights are closing in on three million buys, but in the right scenario some of those fights would eclipse Mayweather vs. Mosley numbers as well as UFC’s own records. Unfortunately as things stand now, you only have four real big possibilities of fights that could crossover and make this happen. Then again, four MMA fights are a lot better than one boxing possibility.
Several reports indicate that the fight has been signed by both men. The UFC has yet to make an official announcement as of this writing. I wouldn’t get too excited about the news. The Shane Carwin vs. Brock Lesnar fight has been signed, scheduled, and later canceled several times over the last twelve months.
Both men are coming off of devastating wins over former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir. Brock Lesnar destroyed Frank Mir at UFC 100 last July. Carwin only needed one round to roll through Frank Mir in March at UFC 111. While Carwin has been promised the fight with Lesnar in the past, it looks more realistic than ever with the signing of the fight.
I wrote the following when the first Shane Carwin vs. Brock Lesnar fight was announced back in August. “The Carwin-Lesnar fight is extremely intriguing. Carwin is 11-0 in MMA and is the only fighter under contract to match Lesnar size for size. At 6’3 and 265lbs, he is the only challenger that Lesnar won’t be able to bully on the ground in a potential match. This will be the first and maybe only time that Lesnar can’t rely strictly on his size to power his way to a win.” Of course since the writing Carwin is now 12-0 in the UFC.
There are rumors of an Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen UFC middleweight title fight being added as a co-main event. After Silva’s shenanigans at UFC 112, I don’t know quick UFC fans will be running out to buy tickets or pay-per-views to see Anderson Silva fight. However, packaged with Brock Lesnar this would make UFC 116 a must-see show.
As it stands now between the anticipation for Brock Lesnar’s next fight and a possible grudge match between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen, UFC 116 has the potential to shatter records set last year at UFC 100. I’d expect an official announcement from Dana White within the next couple of weeks.
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Early buy rate numbers are coming in for UFC 106, and they aren’t good. More shocking than the some of the UFC’s recent judging is the disappointing buy rate for UFC 106. Fingers are being pointed, blame is being shifted, and heads are spinning as skeptics are wondering whether these early numbers suggest the first chapter in the decline of the UFC.
It is amazing as to how quickly things can change in the sports and entertainment business. Just five months ago, UFC 100 set records with over 1.5 million buys and was the darling of the media. The UFC president, Dana White’s arrogance was at an all time high and he immediately started making claims about surpassing the NFL in terms of popularity in a few years. Five months later and UFC 106 is estimated to have sold a mere 300,000 pay-per-views. At this rate, Dana White would be lucky to keep pace with the UFL in a few years.
The numbers are truly shocking. For one, it was just a month ago that the UFC generated over 500,000 buys with UFC 104. The show featured a title match between Shogun Rua and Lyoto Machida that looked very unappealing on paper. Neither man had the star power that Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin carry to the mass MMA audience. Yet a fight with these two UFC superstars featuring a rematch of a classic fight did almost half as many guys as two non-American fighters in a one-sided match on paper? It just doesn’t make sense…or does it?
I have a few theories as to the huge decrease in numbers, and they are huge. The number one theory is something I wrote about right before the UFC 106 and it centers on the ridiculous decisions that have come down in recent main-events since UFC 104. Over 500,000 people paid $50 to watch a guy get robbed of a title and a win. Even worse, over 1 million people watched arguably the wrong guy win a fight on the judge’s scoring card again at UFC 105. Take recent fights on The Ultimate Fighter into equation, and you have a scenario where you are expecting people to pay $50 to watch fights that are coming down to bad decisions. More than exciting fights or star power, I firmly believe that credibility counts more than anything else when promoting your sport. The UFC has lost a ton of credibility recently and that is exactly why casual fans are passing on the UFC.
Another popular argument these days amongst fans and journalists is overexposure. Can too much of a good thing hurt in the long run? I definitely believe that the UFC is suffering a case of overexposure right now. Big shows are coming as little as a week apart, as UFC 105 aired on free TV the week before UFC 106. Add in the UFC Unleashed shows and The Ultimate Fighter, and there is just too much UFC going on these days to follow. The short timeline between shows is fine, when you are following great fights. The risk you take is that you run into a couple of bad decisions in a row and fans are going to be just as quick to turn it off as they were to jump on UFC 100.
Yet another argument has been the diminished star power of Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin. A lot of people are pointing the finger at Griffin, feeling his poor showing against Anderson Silva turned fans off to Forrest. I don’t believe that at all. Here is a guy that is on the cover of one of the most successful video games of the year. Tito Ortiz has turned into a mainstream celebrity between his appearance on The Celebrity Apprentice and his public romance with Jenna Jameson. In terms of star-power, these two guys should have easily sold 500,000 buys. Plus, this was a rematch that fans have wanted to see for years. I don’t buy the star-power argument, although it has to be humiliating for someone like Tito Ortiz who prides himself on being one of the biggest stars in MMA.
Dana White has also started a war with boxing that he is beginning to lose. White has been running his mouth since the UFC blew up a couple of years ago. White has constantly ranted about how bad boxing is, and how the UFC has taken over boxing’s place in combat sports. That may have been true in the short-term but times are changing, and boxing is fighting back.
White has purposely run UFC shows head-to-head with the two biggest boxing events of the year in recent months. To say that boxing slaughtered the UFC would be an understatement. White should be humbled and embarrassed after all of his ranting about how much better the UFC is than boxing. UFC 103 generated an estimated 400,000 buys going head-to-head with Mayweather-Marquez which sold over 1 million. UFC 106 also had a head-to-head, going head-to-head with Pacquiao-Cotto. While UFC 106 did a mere 300,000 buys, Cotto-Pacquiao sold 1.25 million buys. Ouch!
It gets worse for Dana White and the UFC. It is looking very likely that the much anticipated Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather match is finally going to happen. Chances are that the agreement between these two almost assuredly includes a rematch, and a third match if necessary. The first match is expected to shatter records and could sell over 2 million pay-per-views. Numbers like that will make Dana White look like a moron anytime he criticizes boxing in the future. Additionally, there are a lot of older sports journalists that hate the UFC and are openly rooting for boxing in this war. Once this super fight happens, it will dwarf anything that Dana White or the UFC promotes for a long time.
There is really only one answer that the UFC has to answer Pacquiao-Mayweather and that is Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar. As of today, this is the biggest fight that can be made in MMA. While Fedor has never been a great draw on pay-per-view, Brock Lesnar has and this is a match that even the most casual MMA fans talk about. The big problem here for Dana White is that he has blasted boxing for years for not giving fans the match that they want to see (Pacquiao-Mayweather), and now it is he that can’t deliver the big match to his fans. Pacquiao-Mayweather has to put a ton of pressure on Dana White to get Fedor vs. Brock done no matter what he says. He had the chance to get it done and he didn’t. Fans don’t want to hear his excuses about the Russian mafia or promotional deals. Fans are tired of excuses and just want to see the freaking fight. The fact that Bob Arum and Golden Boy can co-promote, completely dismisses just about all of Dana White’s excuses.
The bottom line here is that the UFC is facing a steep uphill climb in 2010. Even worse, a lot of this all comes back to Dana White writing checks with his mouth that he can’t cash. Sure, the UFC has been bit by injuries but they will get all of their top stars back at some point next year. Beyond the injuries, the UFC desperately needs to fix their judging methods and that needs to happen immediately.
More than anything, Dana White needs to keep his mouth shut and start delivering matches the fans want to see. Boxing is making a comeback and with no UFC super matches on the horizon, the UFC is in danger of being the “Fad of the Decade.” Fix the judging, spread out the shows, and deliver the fights that fans want to see, and the UFC will be just fine by the end of 2010.
They say timing is everything, and that is certainly true for Brock Lesnar. Four fights in, and Lesnar is an unequivocal success in UFC. The downside of his success is that he is too good at the wrong time in UFC.
I can’t think of another time in UFC history where every champion was the most dominant fighter in his division. Unlike Lesnar, all of those champions have potential big money fights on the table. The same can’t be said about Lesnar in the current UFC heavyweight division.
The heavyweight division in UFC has been the most cyclical of all in MMA. There have been times in UFC history where the division is stacked with elite fighters. There have been times where nobody in the division could draw a buy. Looking at the division today, there is nothing really to get excited about in Brock Lesnar’s future.
Frank Mir is still far and away the best heavyweight contender in the division. Mir was undoubtedly dominated at UFC 100 by Lesnar. However, a rematch could cement a historic trilogy between these two heavyweights. Out of all of Lesnar’s potential challengers, I think Mir would have the best chance of pulling an upset.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira would probably be second behind Mir in fighters capable of beating Lesnar. Nogueira was dominated by Mir at UFC 92. Personally, I think Nogueira is on the downside of his MMA career. A win over Randy Couture would likely set up a Lesnar match at some point.
Nogueira does likely pose the biggest challenge to Lesnar. As a well-rounded striker and grappler, Lesnar would definitely have to be cautious going into this fight. Mir did dominate Nogueira in the boxing game, but who knows. Nogueira does have the skills to land a lucky shot and turn the lights for Brock Lesnar.
I don’t think there would be a bigger Rocky story in MMA than a Couture win over Lesnar. People forget that Couture did give Lesnar some fits in the first round of their previous fight. Unfortunately age caught up with Randy and he didn’t have the reflexes to answer Lesnar’s speed throughout the fight.
Couture would likely be closing in on 47 if a rematch was to happen. If Dana White won’t Chuck Liddell fight, he can’t even fathom making this match. However, it would be hard to deny Couture if he was to beat Nogueira and possibly Mir in a #1 Contender’s Match. This would likely be an easy match for Lesnar and a sad night for Couture fans.
Mirko Cro-Cop is a very interesting name in this equation. Cro-Cop has signed a three-fight deal with UFC, reportedly for big money. After what Dana White said about him, UFC had to be desperate for heavyweights to acquiesce to Cro-Cop’s demands. I would also guess that UFC is paying Cro-Cop big money with a Lesnar match in mind.
Cro-Cop was brought into UFC originally to be the big money fight with then champion Randy Couture. He has been a huge disappointment since coming over. Cro-Cop would need a really devastating win to convince anyone he is ready for Lesnar. Should Cro-Cop get that win, the match with Lesnar is a given.
Be prepared to hear the biggest load of crap in UFC history in hyping this fight if it should happen. UFC will rightfully bring out the old PRIDE FC tapes and show Cro-Cop from his killer days. Unfortunately those days are long behind him. He is definitely capable of giving Lesnar fits with his kicks. However, he will be easy pickings for Lesnar on the ground.
Shane Carwin is undefeated in MMA and a name you don’t hear about too often in the mainstream media. Carwin physically matches up better with Lesnar than anyone else in the division. At 6’3 and 265lbs, he is the only challenger that Lesnar won’t be able to bully on the ground in a potential match.
Dana White dropped Carwin’s name in the pre-UFC 100 Press Conference. A win over Cain Velasquez at UFC 104 will earn him a title shot. Carwin has been brutal since entering UFC at UFC 84. None of his three fights have gone over 92 seconds and they have all ended with brutal punches.
Carwin has already begun hyping the potential match. Carwin blasted Lesnar on his website after UFC 100. “The flipping off of the fans that just lined your pocket with millions of dollars is just LAME. He may be a Champion but he has a long ways to go before he earns the respect of a Champion. The fans are why we do this Brock, this sport is not about fat paychecks and drama it is about hard work and sacrifice for a shot to do what you did last night. ”
Carwin would test Lesnar like no other fighter currently in UFC. This won’t be the juicy fight that a Couture/Mir/Nogueira-Lesnar fight would be. However, Carwin would be Lesnar’s most difficult opponent. He is a great standup fighter and was dominant NCAA Division II wrestler in college. I don’t know if Carwin would win, but he’d be a great bet as an underdog if the fight were to happen.
Bobby Lashley is an appealing name for pro wrestling fans. Since the Lesnar-Kurt Angle MMA match is likely out, this is the next best thing. Lashley’s performances in MMA have been mixed. However, Lashley was very convincing in his toughest test yet against Bob Sapp.
Lashley in UFC is going to happen at some point. Lashley is in a good financial position and doesn’t need to rush anything. It is possible that Lashley would fight Lesnar on his first fight in UFC. As good as Lashley looked in dominating the bigger Bob Sapp, he was gassed midway in the first round. Lashley needs to improve his conditioning before anyone takes him seriously against Brock Lesnar.
Fedor Emelianenko could change Brock Lesnar’s timing overnight. Until proven otherwise, Emelianenko is the best heavyweight fighter in the world period. This would be the ultimate Dream Match for MMA fans at this stage of the game. Yet we have been begging for Fedor in UFC for years now.
Dana White seems to be coming closer to a deal with Emelianenko. After UFC 100 he said he is confident that Emelianenko will be in UFC at some point. I can’t ever recall hearing White sound that confident about signing Emelianenko so that is a great sign. Of course a loss ay Affliction Trilogy would take a lot of bloom of Emelianenko’s rose.
This is the ultimate heavyweight match right now in UFC’s future. Whether Brock Lesnar is upset or not by someone else and goes 0-3 in his next few fights, this is the fight everyone wants to see. Lesnar would make himself a definite UFC Hall of Fame fighter with a win over Emelianenko. However, until someone beats 30-1 Emelianenko, I’ll take the Last Emperor any day of the week.