This past weekend’s UFC 87: Seek and Destroy involved some great fights across the board. It was great to see George St. Pierre defend his title and the sportsmanship between him and Fitch was great. Fitch although sorely outmatched showed he had a strong chin and is tough as nails. Maia vs. McDonald was great, watching a fellow Canadian fend off a rear naked choke for the last 45 seconds of round 1 was amazing. Maia was the better fighter, but the match was very entertaining. The co-main event was Lesnar vs. Herring, much hype was built around this fight, but it didn’t live up to it’s expectations simply because of how one sided the fight was. What the Lesnar vs. Herring fight did show is that Lesnar is a legitimate heavy weight and that he is a force to be reckoned with in the Sport of MMA.
It was a bit of a disppointment with the ending of the match between Lesnar and Herring when Brock laughed at his opponent and pretended to lasso and reel him in. That being said Herring talked a lot prior to the match, even arguing with Dana White stating he was tired of being matched up against weak low quality opponents like Brock Lesnar. Also this being Lesnar’s first win in UFC and the fact that there were and still are many doubters meant Lesnar had a lot to prove. I would expect that in his next couple fights we can expect his showmanship to disappear unless White and the UFC want another Tito Ortiz type personality in the league.
What can be observed of many MMA followers after Saturday night’s fight between Lesnar and Herring is there are still a lot of doubters. Fans who stated Lesnar would have his hands full with Herring are now saying Herring was Lesnar’s perfect match and he needs to face a fighter like Fedor or Nogueira to put him in his place. Another criticism that has arisen is that Lesnar is a one dimensional fighter with no stand up skill or submission abilities.
Agreed the match Lesnar fought was a little bit boring with the exception of the opening seconds and the take downs. However, Lesnar came in with a game plan and executed. Brock did not want to get caught with a submission like he did against Mir and he didn’t want to get knocked out. So he avoided this by taking the fight to the ground and using his unmatched athleticism and wrestling ability to control Herring while throwing in some devastating knees and hammer fists. It made the fight a little dull, but it was an effective game plan for Lesnar and not much different then how Couture uses the clinch up against the cage and dirty boxing to control his opponents through out the match.
Lesnar definitely relies heavily on his wrestling skills and he does look like a one dimensional fighter at the moment. That being said Brock Lesnar in his first two heavy weight bouts in the UFC has knocked down each fighter with one punch to the face. If anyone would have looked at Heath Herring’s left eye after the first round, they would be hard pressed to say that Lesnar does not know how to throw a punch. What was further proved in last night’s fight and his fight against Mir is not only are his hands heavy, but they are extremely quick. Anyone who can knock down a top MMA heavy weight veteran on their first punch by directly connecting with their chin shows that they have speed and weight in their hands.
Brock’s submission game is lacking and that was evident by the fact that even though Brock dominated Heath on the ground, he never managed to finish the fight with a submission. A fighter like Nogueira or Frank Mir would have been able to submit a fighter had they been able to get the positioning Lesnar had on Herring all fight last night. Granted, fighters like Frank Mir or Nogueira have to work much harder then Lesnar to try and get into the positions Lesnar had on Herring in UFC 87.
We also have to be realistic here. Lesnar is only 31 years old and he only has 3 MMA fights to his name with a record of 2-1 thus far. Lesnar does have a lot to learn in terms of Brazilian Jiu Jitsui. However, if Brock keeps up his work ethic all he needs to do is be able to learn 2-3 solid submissions and bolster his defence and he will be a scary opponent for any heavy weight in the world of MMA. One must not forget that there are many one dimensional fighters that have dominated the UFC, Chuck Liddell an excellent striker, but is almost never fighting on the ground. Randy Couture is a wrestler who relies on his strength from fighting out of the clinch in most bouts he has won. The list goes on. That being said we have seen the dangers of being too one dimensional as well, Mirko Cro Cop relied much too heavily on his kicks and striking ability and clearly Matt Hughes put too many chips on his wrestling ability. Lesnar though at 31 has a bright future and if he brings in the right guys there is no reason he won’t be more rounded in years to come.
One of the most important things to realize here is look at the opponent Brock Lesnar was facing. Heath Herring is a 6’4, 250 pound heavy weight that has a 28-14 record in mixed martial arts. Heath is an experienced veteran and at 30 years old hasn’t seen his best years pass him by. Heath is also a guy that was coming off a victory over Cheick Kongo and he almost finished off Nogueira with a kick to the head in their last match up. He has gone the distance with many top MMA heavy weights around the world. What is interesting and surprising is the fact that Herring’s match against Brock Lesnar was probably his worst loss in his career. Herring's fight against Lesnar was one of his only fights where he did not manage to even get a clean strike on his opponent through 3 five minute rounds. Which begs the question, how could have a veteran like Heath Herring have lost in such a disappointing fashion to a one dimensional green MMA fighter like Brock Lesnar?
Maybe Brock Lesnar is more of a phenom then people are willing to give him credit for. Maybe Brock Lesnar is more then some washed up WWE wrestler. As it stands now, Lesnar’s only risk in the UFC heavy weight division will come against great submission specialists like Frank Mir or Antonio Nogueira (I don’t think Lesnar could beat these guys just yet). The only other risk would come against a heavy weight with as much strength, speed and agility as Brock, which right now simply does not exist in MMA. Strikers will not win against Lesnar because he will simply take them down and unless they are decent with their Jiu Jitsui, they won’t win. If Lesnar is put up against Cheick Kongo next, I would expect much of the same thing from Brock and a third MMA win added to his career. If Lesnar wins his next one or two fights expect him to get a title shot against Nogueira or Mir, depending on what happens in their upcoming meeting.
Clearly Brock Lesnar is going to be a threat in the UFC heavy weight division. One thing though Brock, please try to leave the WWE showmanship at the door for your next one.