Every time I think I have a pretty good idea of how MMA fans think, something like Friday night happens and I’m reminded just how clueless I am. I’m talking about the amazing reaction to Brock Lesnar not only getting beat in the main event at UFC 141, but also announcing his retirement immediately following the fight.
People couldn’t get on twitter or facebook fast enough to post messages making fun of the former champ. I’ve never understood why there is so much animosity towards a guy who retires with a 4-3 record. Lesnar walks away with wins over Heath Herring, Frank Mir, Randy Couture and Shane Carwin.
That’s it. Outside of Couture no real fan favorites in the group so the hatred can’t be based here. It also can’t be based on his lifestyle. Lesnar’s not a guy you see getting out of limos in front of the hottest clubs, he is a guy who says his life consisted of just three things; family, fighting and training. Seems like the same message we hear from Dan Henderson, but the two guys couldn’t be further apart when it comes to popularity.
Is it his fighting style? Win or lose most of his fights featured a ton of action and his last two saw Lesnar take some monster shots before the fights were called. His walks to the octagon provided some of the loudest responses in UFC history.
I was in Anaheim when the Ducks won the NHL’s Stanley Cup championship in 2007. Honda Center was as loud as any building I’ve ever been in as the Ducks skated around with the cup hoisted high. It was pretty cool to be there, just as it was in October of 2010 when Cain Velasquez knocked out Lesnar to become the UFC heavyweight champion. I’m not kidding when I saw it was louder for Lesnar’s walkout then it was for the Ducks. The noise ringing in my ears wasn’t boos, it was cheers. Yes, there were boos mixed in and with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” pounding through the loudspeakers it was tough to decipher what was what, but believe me there were more cheers than boos.
How can you not appreciate a guy who survived a surgery in which a foot of his colon was removed? It became obvious early that Lesnar may look the same, but physically he was no longer able to take shots to the body and that was in the end his downfall. Overeem was too big and too strong for Lesnar and those shots to his surgically repaired midsection did incredible damage.
Sorry, I like the guy and I am sorry to see him go. There was energy around Lesnar that is different than any other current fighter outside of maybe Nick Diaz. Maybe people considered Lesnar a bully and they were happy to see him get beat up. He didn’t come across as a bully during his time as a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” in fact he was just the opposite. He looked a guy who even with limited experience had the skills and knowledge to make some of the young fighters better.
Does Lesnar belong in the Hall of Fame? No, but he is definitely a guy who made a mark in the sport. The UFC will never open their books but I’d be willing to bet Lesnar is top 5 in PPV and merchandise buys. Maybe you think that shouldn’t matter to us, but I guarantee Dana White is sorry to see him go. Lesnar may not have been able to beat the guys at the top of the heavyweight division but coming back from diverticulitis is the biggest win of his career and for that he deserves your applause not boos.