UFC 141 rung in the New Year with some fantastic fights and interesting post-fight tidbits to digest. The retirement of Brock Lesnar first and foremost among them. Now I am grew up in the ’90s , I went from ages 4 to 14 during the golden age of pro wrestling and I couldn’t care less about it. Nothing against pro wrestling fans but if I want to watch scripted fighting I’d like them to have swords, ideally light-sabers, but really any old sword will do. So watching unnaturally large men scream in to the microphones and hit each other with chairs never really drew me in.
So when Brock Lesnar came into MMA, I wasn’t huge on the idea of a pro wrestler coming into a real combat sport. Now since then I’ve developed a respect for the catch wrestling roots of pro wrestling and Brock Lesnar won my respect as a fighter. When ever an athlete that won a championship in his/her sport, there is the question of where that athlete fits into the pantheon of all-time greats. And Brock Lesnar is no different, where does he fit amongst the great MMA heavyweights.
Certainly he isn’t the best Heavyweight of all-time; names like Randy Couture, Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira or even Mark Coleman should come before Lesnar to name a few. But this should not relegate Lesnar to the dustbin of MMA history. Lesnar came to the sport with excellent NCAA wrestling credentials and freak athleticism but already in his 30s, never having trained MMA and experienced great success.
While Lesnar’s legacy will include his distaste for getting hit, it should not lessen his victories over Randy Couture, Frank Mir, his awesome come back against Shane Carwin and even his win over Heath Herring who was once an a top 15 heavyweight in his own right. So I wish Brock Lesnar a happy retirement. You reached the top of the sport, defended your title, and changed the heavyweight division. Those are things that can never be taken away.
More after the jump….
Don’t Mess With the 209
Seriously, Nate Diaz is a beast and I was not giving him enough credit when picking that fight. After that performance I think his boxing is better than his brother Nick’s. Nate has just laser guided straight punches that take full advantage of his reach and strike with more power than his larger kin.
He put a beating on Donald Cerrone and though I tweeted that I wanted to see that as a 5 round fight, on reflection that might have killed Cerrone. Nate’s outstanding boxing, fearsome jiu jitsu and endless cardio I think makes him a major threat to UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar. That would be a fight I’d be very interested in watching, regardless of Edgar’s result against Ben Henderson in Japan.
Knocked the Fitch Out
Jon Fitch just saw his interim-title dreams disappear as he watched that replay of Johny Hendricks dropping him with that left hand. While many an MMA fan, including some Zuffa brass most likely, rejoiced at Fitch’s loss, I feel bad for the former Boilermaker. A man whose only crime was being excellent in skills not pleasing to fans will be relegated to undercards despite being a top ranked welterweight. I’m not a huge fan of drawing broad conclusions on a fighter after a quick loss.The UFC has been feeding him heavy hitters for just about two years now hoping for this result and he has survived and thrived but I think this loss could benefit MMA fans in an unexpected way.
To get back in the title picture, Fitch will be forced to change his game. He likely doesn’t have enough time left in his prime to grind his way back up. While lacking KO power, Fitch is an excellent grappler and perhaps he will focus more on passing guard and isolating arms or attacking the neck. I have no doubt that if Fitch put together two wins by submission in 2012 he would be challenging for that interim title before 2013.
- Alexander Gustafsson looks better and better each time out. He is going to give guys fits with that rangy boxing and improving wrestling. He is going to be a Top 5 Light Heavyweight and if Jon Jones moves up to Heavyweight he could be a champion. Get this guy a step up in competition.
- I knew Jimmy Hettes was good, but WOW. Love to see great Judo in MMA and then follow it up with excellent and urgent grappling on the mat. Not going to go over the top because Phan, while an able gatekeeper and a likable guy he isn’t an elite Featherweight. That said, Hettes is someone to watch going forward.
- Dong-Hyun Kim really wanted that crane kick and he almost got a KO out of it. Interesting and fairly convincing win from Kim, solid bounce back win.
- Bonus Dream thought: Satoru Kitaok did a good job of surviving with Shinya Aoki on his back but Aoki beat him up and showed pretty solid all around skills despite not finishing. Fedor did what Fedor does in Japan and the commentary crew was TERRIBLE.
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