Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar continued to make a splash on WWE Raw last night. My dude Jonathan Snowden has a nifty recap of Brock's antics on the show, which included a moment when Lesnar punched John Cena in the mouth with a much better strike than any he's landed since mauling Frank Mir at UFC 100.
While that was an awesome moment that brought back a tint of realism that professional wrestling has been mostly missing for the past eight years, I wanted to instead focus on a different moment. This happened later in the show, when Lesnar was asked during a backstage interview if he was proud to return to the WWE:
"Proud? I'm proud of everything I do.
Let me tell you a little story. Eight years ago I left this company. I was a WWE champion. I took this company to heights it had never seen before. I left the company, went to the UFC and became UFC heavyweight champion of the world. Their success was on my blood, sweat and tears."
The last part is the important one. I tweeted Lesnar's comment last night, and was completely shocked at the backlash from MMA fans toward Lesnar. They were FURIOUS at Lesnar for saying such a dastardly thing.
It's important to remember the context of Lesnar's comments. They were made during a scripted interview on a scripted television show featuring fake fighting. Lesnar is being positioned as a cocky, wrecking machine bad guy on the show, so of course he's going to say things like this. You're supposed to hate the things that come out of his mouth. I guess it worked swimmingly.
But here's the real point: Lesnar was mostly correct. There are plenty of people responsible for the UFC's success over the past ten years, but none of them can be attributed with the kind of fame Lesnar brought to the UFC. When he jumped into the Octagon, it gave the UFC access to millions of current and former WWE fans who were dismayed with the direction of the wrestling product.
I'm not just making this up. He's the biggest-drawing card in the history of the UFC, and it's not even close.
There will never, ever be another Brock Lesnar. He was a superstar from another sport who jumped directly into the Octagon and immediately competed, and defeated, the best fighters in his division. He had a huge hand in making the UFC what it is today.
But let's keep in mind that he's now part of a scripted show. He's gone from the UFC. You don't really have a reason to get your panties in a wad when he says something you may not like.