It turns out that being a freakish human specimen is not enough to survive in the UFC. After a humiliating defeat to Alistair Overeem, Brock Lesnar announced his retirement from mixed-martial arts (MMA) last week.
Not everybody is cut out to be a fighter. After all, not very many people like getting punched in the face. And if you don’t truly love to brawl, the UFC is not the place for you. Even if you are the personification of the Hulk.
Brock Lesnar was a world-class collegiate wrestler, but there is no striking in wrestling. A pure wrestler does not discover how he will react to getting kicked and punched by an elite kick-boxer. Lesnar didn’t seem to like it very much.
But is the love of brawling something that can be learned? I don’t know, but if Lesnar wanted to make a comeback, that’s what he should focus on. He should get training partners like Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar and spar as intensely as possible.
And of course, there are MMA skills, of which wrestling is only but one. Lesnar had only eight MMA fights. He retired a rookie. There is no doubt that he could make vast improvements in his game if he stuck with it. He is only 34 years old, after all, and his diverticulitis is fixed.
When you consider how little MMA experience Lesnar had, it’s astonishing how quickly he became the UFC heavyweight champion. And he had two successful title defenses. That might be the most amazing feat in martial-arts history.
Lesnar looked incredibly nervous as he walked in for the Overeem fight. He knew he was going to lose. Nevertheless, Overeem was bleeding right off the bat. I think Lesnar opened him up with a jab. So, even in defeat, Lesnar showed a spark of brilliance there.
Overeem has 62 MMA and kick-boxing fights – almost eight times the experience as Lesnar. That matters.
I think that if Lesnar wants to rescind his retirement decision, he could have a long and lucrative career in MMA. But the level of competition in the UFC is so high that not even the Hulk can expect it to be easy.