Former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar has always been something of a lightening rod for attention. Since making his MMA debut in 2007, he has quickly moved up the ranks to become not only a UFC champion, but also unequivocally the top drawing athlete in the sport. Still, he will always have his detractors – fans who are turned off by his roots in the staged theatrics of professional wrestling and the WWE, and who dislike the wrestling persona Lesnar sometimes brings into the Octagon.
Wrestling magazine The Wrestling Press spoke to Lesnar recently, with Brock giving the WWE a tremendous amount of credit for his MMA popularity:
I’m not stupid – without the WWE, the WWE made me a household name and increased my value tenfold before I even pursued the UFC. Could I be where I am today without the WWE? Probably not. Could I be drawing the same numbers that I’m drawing? Probably not. I brought a lot of fans over, a lot of crossover fans that I brought, just from the general public and WWE fans, I believe.
There’s a strong base of MMA fans who shy away from any pro wrestling comparisons, but Brock’s statements here are true. Yes, he brings his own charisma, but his initial immediate popularity as a UFC fighter has to be attributed in large part to WWE and the crossover of fans between the two sports.
Exactly how much crossover there is between fans remains a point of discussion, but we will get an interesting test this weekend, as the UFC and WWE go head to head on Sunday night. The UFC on Versus 5 card will be airing at the same time as WWE SummerSlam 2011. Because WWE Pay Per Views are on Sundays, the two rarely go against each other, but here, fans will be forced to choose between the two. For the UFC, the card is a free TV show, but is lacking in star power. Meanwhile, WWE will present one of their big PPV events of the year, headlined by the currently hot program between C.M. Punk and John Cena. It will be worth a close look at how each one does to see where the audience goes.
For more on Brock Lesnar, be sure to read the entire Wrestling Press interview, as he has some nice insight into the WWE working schedule and his views on the media, and check out his autobiography Death Clutch.
HT: Cageside Seats
About the author