Lesnar: 'Revenge is key!'
Story by David L. Hudson
Photo by Chris Cozzone
In October 2007, UFC President Dana White warned that “fighters better take Brock Lesnar seriously.” White made that announcement shortly after the premier mixed martial arts organization in the world signed the former NCAA wrestling champion and WWE superstar to a contract. For his part Lesnar said: “This isn’t a joke for me.”
Many scoffed at the notion that the former professional wrestler could come from the field of “entertainment” and pre-ordained outcomes into the multi-disciplinary, real-world chaos in the Octagon and compete against the best mixed martial artists in the world. Some MMA purists rejoiced when Lesnar lost in his Octagon debut, losing via submission to former UFC champion Frank Mir.
But, Lesnar has turned the tables and silenced many critics first with a unanimous decision beatdown of respected veteran Heath Herring and the dethroning of the legendary Randy Couture to earn the UFC belt. Now, Lesnar has revenge on his mind, as he seeks to avenge his only defeat in the Octagon by facing Mir at UFC 100 this coming Saturday July 11th. A victory over Mir would vault Lesnar into contention for the world’s best heavyweight and perhaps provoke the long-awaited entrance into the Octagon of the great, pound-for-pound king Fedor Emelianenko.
Lesnar has improved dramatically since his Octagon debut against Mir. He showed much greater patience and technique in overpowering Couture. “I’ve improved dramatically [since the first fight with [Mir],” he says. “I’ve evolved into a well-rounded fighter and seek to not leave any stone unturned in my preparation. My ground skills have improved.” According to the champion, his greatest area of improvement has occurred in his striking game. Anyone that witnessed his right hand clubbing of Couture can attest to the veracity of his statement.
Lesnar recognizes that, as he says, “this is not just an offensive sport”, that he must improve his submission defense, particularly against someone as gifted in jiu-jitsu as Frank Mir. Lesnar says his greatest asset as an athlete is his “willingness to learn.” Many may disagree and cite his ridiculous combination of size, strength and speed.
He discounts the notion that Mir is a true mixed martial artist and that he is simply a fighter. For Lesnar, the equation is simple – he loves to fight and his fighting career pays him quite handsomely. “I love what I do. I have the best job in America – I get paid to train and fight. It doesn’t get much better than that. But, this is a business for me. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t fight for peanuts. This is prizefighting for me.”
Lesnar claims it doesn’t bother him when the critics challenge his status as a martial artist. “I don’t go around looking for respect; I just get in there and do my job. … I don’t give a damn about what anyone thinks.”
What Lesnar does care deeply about is winning. “I hate to lose. I absolutely hate losing. Losing bothers me.” He knows that his legacy in mixed martial arts rests on how he performs against Mir, who looked impressive in stopping the indomitable Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, a man who had never been kayoed even when tasting the ground-of-pound of Emelianenko.
“Revenge is a key factor for me,” Lesnar said, pointing out that he doesn’t really dislike Mir despite their at times heated war of words. “I don’t dislike Frank other than his win over me.”
Purchase UFC 100 on pay-per-view to see if Lesnar can continue his evolution into a fully well-rounded MMA combatant, successfully defend his championship and avenge his lone defeat.