Goodbye Brock

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.

Steven Segal – Trainer of Champions

Last week, Anderson Silva knocked out Vitor Belfort with a front-kick:

Turns out, the kick was a super-secret technique known only to actor, Steven Segal who taught it to Silva. Or so says Segal. Thirty-five years ago, my karate instructor called it a “snap kick” but what did he know, right? In any case, if there were an Academy Award for “Being Full of Yourself” Segal would win it in a landslide for this performance:

Say a Prayer for James Toney

Why is boxing called “The Sweet Science”? Because it’s just slap-fighting with big fluffy mittens. Tonight we will see a demonstration about how boxing doesn’t prepare you for real-world fighting at UFC 118 when champion boxer James Toney gets a beating from a guy who knows how to fight for real, Randy Couture.

Normally, the UFC does not put on this kind of circus act. And that’s a good thing. But since boxing is a competitor to MMA for pay-per-view dollars, I think Dana White probably sees this as a great way to embarrass boxing and take market share.

Update: Well, I was right. Toney didn’t land a single punch, and was instantly taken-down, mounted, pummeled, and choked out.

Fabricio Flattens Fedor

Fedor Emelianenko‘s strategy of appearing invincible by only fighting washed-up UFC fighters came to a screeching halt last night when washed-up UFC fighter Fabricio Werdum needed only 1:09 to choke out Fedor.

Now we see why Emelianenko has avoided the UFC for his entire career. He prefers to be a big fish in a small pond rather than take his chances in the big show.

On July 3rd, we will see a true clash of titans at UFC 116 when champion Brock Lesnar fights Shane Carwin. Carwin is 12-0 with all of his victories coming in the first round.

How would Fedor fare against fighters of this caliber? We may never know, however perhaps this humiliating loss to Werdum will motivate Fedor to prove himself. Maybe he will now feel the need to fight in the UFC.

Randy Couture is a Sore Loser

After being defeated by Brock “Lightening” Lesnar at UFC 91, Randy Couture said that there is nothing that he would have done differently and his game plan worked very well, but he “got caught.” That’s what a fighter says when he takes one on the chin and gets knocked out.

Any fighter can get knocked out because a shot to the chin sends a shock wave into your brain that pushes your “off” button. You can juice your muscles up as big as you want, but you can’t juice up your chin. And sometimes a lesser fighter can knock out a better opponent by throwing lots of punches with one getting lucky and landing just right.

But Couture didn’t get hit on the chin. Lesnar hit him on the side of the head, a strike that requires more power for a KO than a shot to the chin. Also, Lesnar’s previous two UFC opponents, Frank Mir and Heath Hearing both saw stars after Lesnar right hands.

Lesnar did not get lucky.

Lesnar’s right hand is powerful, but it is also fast as lightening. It’s like having bricks shot out of a cannon coming at you. It’s going to be a problem for a lot of fighters.

I would also say that Lesnar out-wrestled Couture, if not by much. And Lesnar had better stamina. It was a clean and decisive victory any way you slice it.

Couture vs. Lesnar

Brock Lesnar is fast as lightening. Randy Couture is 45 years old.

Randy is smart. Brock is dumb.

Those are the factors that will decide this fight at UFC 91.

Let’s assume that Lesnar has trained-up enough to avoid getting caught in a ridiculous foot-lock like the one that Frank Mir defeated him with. (When was the last time a UFC fighter was defeated by a foot lock anyway? Ever?) And since Couture is no submission specialist, he will have to find another way to defeat Lesnar. But Randy is very smart, and if it is possible, he is the fighter most capable of designing an anti-Lesnar game plan.

Part of the solution might come from Couture’s Greco-Roman wrestling experience. Lesnar has defeated many freestyle wrestlers, and fake wrestlers, so maybe Randy can surprise him with some slick Greco-Roman moves.

Couture’s biggest problem may be that he does not have enough film of Lesnar to find flaws in Lesnar’s game. Lesnar only has a few rounds of MMA experience.

Both Lesnar and Couture are decorated wrestlers. We know that Randy’s boxing is pretty good, but we haven’t seen enough of Lesnar’s stand-up to make a judgment of his skills. However, that’s exactly what I want to see from Lesnar. The last thing we need is to have Tito Ortiz’s boring ground-and-pound replaced by Lesnar’s boring ground-and-pound.

Frank Mir said that he saw stars after Lesnar knocked him down with a right hand. Heath Herring literally flew across the ring after another Lesnar right hand. We need to see more of that. Lots more. Watching the strike in slow motion, you see that Herring was like a deer frozen in the headlights. Lesnar was that much faster. And don’t forget that Lesnar landed two very nice leg kicks on Herring too.

It would be sad if Lesnar would continue to think of himself as primarily a wrestler because he has the speed and agility to do some awesome stand-up. And he should take note of the fact that even fighters who are competent on the ground, like Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin, try to keep fights standing up to please the fans. Ideally, Lesnar would throw some strikes, do a lightening fast take-down, get into an exciting scramble on the ground, let the guy up, knock him head-over-heals, lather, rinse, repeat.

Heath Herring has never been a UFC champion, but he did defeat an equally gigantic wrestler, Mark Kerr, back in 2001. So, I think the fact that Lesnar was able to totally rag-doll Herring is a significant achievement.

I say that Lesnar is dumb because he can’t figure out how to play nice with others. He got cut from the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings because he was basically too much of a jerk. Lesnar is no team player, and make no mistake, MMA is a team sport. You may fight in the ring by yourself, but if you don’t train with a solid team, your success will be greatly diminished.

Lesnar is a lot like another very talented wrestling jerk, Matt Hamill. When Hamil was on The Ultimate Fighter TV show, the other fighters ganged up on him and gave him a beating – that’s how much of a jerk he is. Like Hamill, Lesnar trains by setting up a gym and then hiring people to come in and work with him. That’s not the best way to train. You want to join a camp with wise, graybeard coaches and other champion fighters. That’s how fighters like Anderson Silva and Thiago Alves do it.

Lesnar: “I like to do things on my own” – in his private gym. Lesnar: as a kid, “I didn’t make any friends. Life is not about making friends.” This is a very wrong attitude.

Randy is the exact opposite of Lesnar in this regard. He owns a chain of MMA gyms and has always trained with other top fighters. Lesnar may be talented enough to get away with being a lone-eagle jerk, but he will never reach his full potential with that type of training.

I also think that Lesnar might be dumb because he hit both Mir and Herring with rabbit punches. Is he too dumb to learn simple rules, or is he just too negligent to learn the rules? In either case, it’s a bad sign because there are quite a lot of details to master in MMA. It is my impression that fighters who make mistakes like this don’t go on to become champions.

As an MMA fan, I was overjoyed when a real fighter, Frank Mir, defeated the phony-baloney “professional” wrestler, Lesnar. That fool Hulk Hogan is always going on about how UFC fights are fake and that the fighters “work light.” What an imbecile. Of course, Hogan wisely watches UFC fights from the audience with his daughter Brooke, instead of getting into the ring.

Unlike Hogan, Lesnar is a real accomplished athlete. The problem though, is that he has spent too many years pretending to fight when he could have been developing real MMA skills. If Lesnar were facing a young Randy Couture, he wouldn’t have much of a chance.

But I will not root for Couture. If Couture wins, he might run off and pout about his pay and hire layers to sue the UFC again. He always does that, and always robs the fans of exciting rematches.

So, I will be rooting for Lesnar unless he bores me with incessant ground-and-pound. And I think he can win.