Brock Lesnar: The Next Big (UFC) Thing?

Without question, Brock Lesnar is a world-class athlete. His accomplishments in amateur wrestling include both junior college and NCAA national championships. At the University of Minnesota, he won two Big Ten titles and was the top-ranked heavyweight wrestler in the conference. His agility and quickness made for a fearsome complement to his massive physique and overwhelming power.

Even during his short tenure with World Wrestling Entertainment, he impressed many of his fellow performers. His work with such big-name stars as Kurt Angle, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Hulk Hogan earned him rave reviews. His performances so impressed WWE chairman Vince McMahon that he awarded Lesnar the WWE Undisputed Championship three times. Fans marveled at his combination of size, speed and power.

However, some of his choices have left his fans scratching their heads. Many WWE watchers will remember his botched shooting star press on Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania XIX in Seattle; a move that left Lesnar concussed and forced Angle to improvise a finish to the match. His final WWE match a year later at Wrestlemania XX against Bill Goldberg drew massive boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd and was his worst effort in the promotion. Earlier that week, fans learned the Lesnar planned to leave behind millions in the WWE to try out for his hometown NFL franchise, the Minnesota Vikings.

His attempt at an NFL career was marred by more bad decisions. He started fights in training camp, refused to show up for scheduled practices, sacked Kansas City Chiefs QB Damon Huard during a preseason scrimmage and injured himself during a motorcycle ride a few months before camp opened. Fed up with his lack of discipline, the Vikings cut Lesnar before the start of the season. Despite his tremendous athletic abilities, Lesnar showed he had neither the physical skill set nor the mental stability to make it in the regimented world of professional football.

After a lawsuit against WWE and a stint with a major pro wrestling promotion in Japan, Lesnar decided to enter the world of Mixed Martial Arts. He won his only fight for K-1, earning a submission by strikes against a last-second replacement opponent. From there, he signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the leading mixed martial arts promotion in the world. UFC President Dana White announced that Lesnar would meet former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir at UFC 81. Mir had been out of the sport for almost eighteen months due to a motorcycle accident and had lost three of his previous four UFC fights before meeting Lesnar. Still, Mir caught Lesnar with a kneebar and won the fight in less than two minutes.

At UFC 87 in his hometown of Minneapolis, Lesnar took down his first UFC win over journeyman heavyweight fighter Heath Herring. While Lesnar earned a unanimous decision, a win over one of the lesser lights of the UFC heavyweight division should not be taken as a sign that he is ready to step up to the ranks of contenders. At his current skill level, Lesnar would be no match for current UFC Heavyweight Champion and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira. Lesnar certainly does not stack up against other former UFC champions such as Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski or Randy Couture. Given his past career as a “sports-entertainer”, Lesnar’s best match may be against another product of media hype, YouTube sensation Kimbo Slice.

Brock Lesnar’s natural athletic talents and abilities have made him a tremendous success in the wrestling world, both in amateur competitions and in professional performances. His decisions to this point have not allowed him to acheive the full potential of those stunning abilities. Whether due to bad advice, misplaced ambitions or a self-destructive streak, doubts still remain as to whether Lesnar is “The Next Big Thing” or “The Last Big Hype.”

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