At the beginning of this season, the USC Trojans were ranked No. 3 in the NCAA standings. They received an inordinate about of air time about things they did that ultimately didn't matter.
The Trojans were anointed as BCS National Title contenders, but fast forward 12 weeks later, they are out of contention and considered a major disappointment.
The "experts" assumed that even though USC had lost a huge amount of players, it was USC and their rosters were stacked from top to bottom, so even though they were depleted, they were given the benefit of the doubt.
Why? Because it is USC.
Big names will always get the benefit of the doubt, big names will always get the big push. It is why Mike Tyson was still a pay-per-view draw in 2005 against an unknown Kevin McBride, even though Evander Holyfield pretty much ended his career in 1997.
I don't know if we as the viewing public actually want these names to be successful, yet we are enthralled by them, we can't help but watch.
Enter Brock Lesnar.
Though I haven't reached an answer that I am satisfied with, I have come to the conclusion that not only do we have to look at Fedor's recent activity, but we have to look at the others who are ranked with him.
According to MMA Weekly, Brock Lesnar is rated as the No. 2 Heavyweight in the world. In the name of journalistic integrity, I have to look into this, even though, admittedly, I'm sure this horse has been beaten to death. So time for me to get my shots in.
Lesnar's record only has Min-soo Kim, Frank Mir, Heath Herring, and Randy Couture. I have to read that again. I've read and re-read it since the last Mir fight; Min-soo Kim, Frank Mir, Heath Herring, and Randy Couture. Then I look at MMA Weekly, Sherdog, and ESPN; and I wonder...How?
In an effort to put things into a clearer perspective, I don't think looking at who Lesnar has fought is going to answer any questions, I think it is better to look who was fighting who during the same time period as Lesnar.
Or better yet, I think since the overall consensus is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, we should do a head-to-head comparison.
Most say that Nogueira is the best heavyweight in the UFC, or deserves a higher ranking. Yet, if you look at his record since entering the UFC, you will see that he is 3-1, with wins over Tim Sylvia, Randy Couture, Heath Herring, and a loss against Frank Mir.
Compare that to Lesnar's 3-1, with wins over Frank Mir, Randy Couture, and Heath Herring, with the lone loss coming in his debut against Frank Mir. What does that mean?
It means that we are doing the same thing with Noguiera that we are doing to Fedor. We are recognizing his current skill set along with his fighting history as a whole to determine his current standing now.
Of course, we can say that in the Mir fights, Nogueira was beaten by a staph infection way before Mir ever landed a punch, while that may be true, when you step in the Octagon, you step in knowing the risk, and knowing the possible outcomes.
But doesn't anyone think that Big Nog stepped in the cage thinking he would lose? We will talk about Big Nog in another article, but it is food for thought and something to talk about. But with "Big Nog" and Lesnar possessing comparable UFC records, how is Lesnar rated No. 2 in the world?
Did Brock Lesnar deserve his title shot before avenging his loss against Frank Mir? No.
Is Lesnar in the position he is because he is a name and carries with him a following? Yes.
However, to say that Lesnar is ranked No. 2 in the world RIGHT NOW, is to say that Lesnar is ready to fight Fedor RIGHT NOW. And that is false.
I am not doubting Lesnar's abilities or potential, but to put it simply, he wasn't exactly winning the chess match to Couture before catching him with that overhand right.
It wasn't that Lesnar set up that knock out, it was more a result of Couture bobbing when he should have been weaving.
He lost to Frank Mir because he was too busy trying to set himself up to deliver those Cro-Magnon hammer fists and forgetting he was fighting a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
In the second Mir fight, he was more measured, but the final take down was because Frank Mir was trying to deliver a jumping knee while Lesnar was going for a single.
I am critical of these fights because I am concerned about how they win, not if they win.
Lesnar didn't impose his will on Couture, he slightly had the upper hand in the second Mir fight, meaning the only fight he truly dominated was the Herring fight.
Besides fighting the best fighters to be No. 1, it is also about how they win. To play the devil's advocate from yesterday's column where I was critical of who Fedor fought, how he won gave him the argument of still being ranked No. 1.
If Brock Lesnar wasn't Brock Lesnar, he wouldn't be any higher ranked that Cain Velazquez, who has more fights in the UFC, and won all of them in a more impressive fashion.
Though an argument can be made about who Velasquez has fought, and I will later, we are witnessing a parallel in the growths of two fighters.
Yet one has been more dominating in his wins, while the other has fought stiffer competition. Can one really rank Lesnar above someone like Velazquez?
Based on pure experience and quality of wins, Brock Lesnar is not the No. 2 heavyweight in the world, but that is not to say that 2010 won't solidify him as a contender for the top dog in the heavyweight division.
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