There are those out there who still don't think much of MMA, especially after the not-made-for-TV Kimbo Slice fight on May 31 which many thought was a "freak show gimmick."
Nothing against Kimbo, I think he's just going with the flow and making the best of being a street brawling YouTube sensation. But he's not meant for TV unless Elite XC just wants to keep sending him up against no name fighters on their way out.
If that happens, people will simply assume EliteXC stands for Elite-excrement.
Prime Time MMA, on the other hand, is for the UFC—and Dana White knows it. It's the NFL of MMA. The fighters are competitive, well-matched, and just as professional as many other big league athletes.
Brock Lesnar is being brought into this UFC culture because win or lose this Saturday he has the potential of becoming one of the top UFC heavyweights in the history of MMA as opposed to simply a rags to riches fighter phenomenon.
When all the usual hype started prior to UFC 81 about the former WWE show dog coming to MMA, the first thing some people thought was that this was a "freak show gimmick." They also thought that the UFC was scraping for extra ticket sales in the face of increased competition from MMA wannabees like Elite XC.
But as word spread of his 100+ college wrestling wins, his speed, his size, and his overall strength many people decided to take a wait and see approach.
After all, Lesnar is only 30 years old (about a decade younger than Randy Couture and 20 years younger than Kimbo). Plus, he looks mean and tough enough to be a cross between Mike Tyson and former UFC legend Dan "The Beast" Severn.
Unlike Kimbo, Lesnar has some legit pro experience. Supposedly Lesnar's first MMA fight was to be against the giant South Korean Choi Hong-Man, but Choi backed out and Brock pounded his replacement Min Soo Kim into submission.
At UFC 81 Lesnar faced the former heavyweight champ Frank Mir. Fortunately for the UFC, despite Lesnar losing, he turned out to be everything optimists thought he would be: quick, aggressive, and intimidating.
He brought Mir to the mat immediately and at one point looked like he just might finish the fight under 60 seconds as he lowered his fists like sledge hammers upon Mir's face.
Inexplicably the ref halted the fight and made them stand up, incurring a flood of boos from the sold out Las Vegas crowd. Apparently one of Brock's punches hit the back of Mir's head which, rightly, is not allowed in the UFC.
After the fight resumed Brock and Mir went at it again with Mir perfectly baiting Lesnar to return to the ground where he seduced him into a submission (knee-bar) at 1:30 of the first round.
You can watch the fight on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga3a3c4PLSE
Although Lesnar lost, the fight proved three things. One, Brock is a major ticket magnet. Two, Brock is a nuclear bomb waiting to explode upon the heavyweight division. And three, Brock needs more fights to develop properly.
Originally Lesnar's next fight at the upcoming UFC 87 was going to be against UFC/Pride fighting legend Mark Coleman who, no offense to Coleman, looked like an easy matchup for Lesnar.
Coleman, after all, fought in UFC 10 and was just inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame at the age of 44. Thank God for a weak knee or Achilles tendon.
From a fan's standpoint, fighters who are 40+ years old are risky for business and smack of desperation on the part of the MMA. (Couture being the exception, not the rule, I think.)
So when Coleman backed out recently and was replaced by the 30-year-old Herring (29-13-1), it looked like a smart move by Dana White.
For those who are unfamiliar with MMA, Heath "The Texas Crazy Horse" Herring fought in Japan, once had multi-colored hair, once knocked an opponent out cold before the fight started, and enters the ring to the awesome theme sound of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." He has chalked up some impressive wins (Vovchanchyn, Kerr, Kongo) as well as impressive losses (Fedor and Nogueira).
And Herring has no fear, either. "Brock Lesnar is a one dimensional fighter..." stated Herring in a pre-fight video on UFC.com. "He is not going to bring anything that I have not seen, experienced, or handled in the Octagon."
As UFC 87 approaches Saturday, Aug. 9 in Lesnar's hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota it looks to be one of the more popular UFCs this year (especially with George St. Pierre (GSP) defending his welterweight title) as Lesnar goes against Heath Herring. MMA fans should be looking forward to an awesome fight.
"I'm confident I can take any heavyweight down...I'm hungry to fight in the Octagon," stated Lesnar on UFC.com "[Herring] is a well rounded fighter...but I'm going to fight tooth and nail to win."
Anything can happen inside the Octagon but it's time for Lesnar to "Seek and Destroy" the UFC heavyweight division and show the world that he is more than just easy ticket sales for the UFC—he's a legit MMA fighter.
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