Anyone who watched UFC 121 just saw evolution taking place. Judging from Dana White’s post fight moping and “every dog has his day” melancholy, he will look back on this day and realize today was the day that the UFC began to matter.
Cain Velasquez’s absolute dismantling of the “Baddest Man on the Planet,” Brock Lesnar, has brought Dana White kicking and screaming into the future of MMA.
I am not talking about the promotion of the first Mexican-American Heavyweight Combat Sports Champ or the penetration of the Latino Market that Dana has strived for.
Tonight we saw that the Freight Train was derailed by good old-fashioned MMA fundamentals. Cain beat Brock without breaking a sweat and just saved the MMA Heavyweight division.
Brock Came on the scene in 2008 and was submitted in a minute 30 by Frank Mir, after that he went on a terror and dominated a very, very, very soft Heavyweight division.
How soft? Randy Couture was the Heavyweight Champ at 40-plus years of age. No one had seen someone as big, strong and fast as Brock and he ran through the old guard like a wrecking machine. This drove many MMA purists nuts.
Why all the Brock hate? The hate comes from Brock being a totally one-dimensional genetic freak who won that title at almost 300 lbs and simply beat Couture and subsequently the Frank Mir rematch in easy fashion.
Brock had a glaring weakness: his total lack of stand up (striking) game. He had a HULK SMASH approach to striking, and since the heavyweight division was weak and devoid of strikers, Brock faced no real challengers.
Now I know Crocop and Big Nog are quite effective strikers, but by the time they got to the UFC they are shells of their former selves. Brock had a life-threatening bout of diverticulitis and was out of the fight game for almost a year.
During his hiatus, Dana brought in a fresh batch of new, young and hungry heavyweights. I believe Dana thought of them as being fed to Brock to further his dominance.
In any event, let’s move on to Brock’s fight with Carwin. I picked Carwin by first-round knockout initially. I believed that Brock would not be able to handle a fighter his same size who could actually hit.
It turns out that I was pretty accurate, as Brock was seconds away from having the fight stopped, but Carwin gassed himself out. Next round Carwin put up token resistance to being taken down to submitted.
If it had not been for terrible cardio, the Brock era would have been over. Many people praised Brock for his incredible chin and fighter's spirit. I saw that Brock blinked when he was punched, turned his head and ran away.
It is pretty obvious that Brock does not do even marginal sparring with his stand up game. The first thing you learn upon sparring in boxing or muay thai is head movement and to keep your composure when you get punched, because you get punched a lot.
However, who was going to have the cardio, power and ground game to withstand Brock’s onslaught and do more than just expose him but to BEAT him?
What was needed was a heavyweight who truly had all-around game. I define “all-around” game as having stand up, clinch and a ground game.
The problem with the heavyweights are there were too many one-dimensional fighters, and Brock was the best of them. When the Cain Velasquez fight was announced, I was excited. Here is Brock’s first real true MMA fight test. Here’s a dude who is a true heavyweight with all of the tools.
I still thought Brock would beat him, assuming Brock was going to work on his stand up game. However, I saw Cain and Junior Dos Santos as the new era of Heavyweights who were true heavyweights and had an all around fight game. Not just pumped up light heavyweight guys who couldn’t bang with the Shogun, Rampage and Rashard Evans crew.
So when I see Brock rush Cain and he calmly defends and bounces right back up because Brock did not lock his arms, I see Brock eat some punches and like them. He shoots again and gets the takedown.
Cain is in full guard, and Brock tries to pass guard to side control and let's Cain get up and escape again. At that point, I knew it wasn’t a matter of IF Cain was going to beat Brock it was a matter of WHEN. Brock knew it too.
His best weapon was to keep Cain on the ground and he easily escaped both takedowns. Cain peppered Brock's face up, and Brock tried to turn his head and run.
You know why boxing trainers tell you not to turn your head, blink or turn your back when getting punched? Because there is a 100 percent chance you will keep getting punched. That’s what happened to Brock.
I was totally surprised that Cain tried for the single leg on Brock and got it. If you are an elite wrestler, how did you get got with a single leg…who are you James Toney? However, since Brock lost composure he was dead meat and Junior got the victory…….EASILY.
What we saw last night is that all-around game beats one-dimensional genetic freaks all day long. I know Dana believes that his cash cow is dead, however, Cain may have just elevated the UFC. Yeah, that’s right, I said it.
The class of any fighting sport is the heavyweights. The Heavyweight division in the UFC had been a joke up until Cain beat Brock. Here’s what my big homie who used to box said to me about MMA. “How the hell can you have the best fighters when a professional wrestler can beat your best heavyweight in his fourth fight?”
Good question. The genetic freight train had to be stopped for the game to change.
Chuck Lidel brought top level striking to the light heavyweight division and officially and completely, so has Cain Velasquez.
By beating Brock Lesnar without breaking a sweat, by scouting Brock, by dismantling Brock, by humiliating Brock the Heavyweight Division is now legit and the rocked up brutes that can’t bang better hire themselves some boxing coaches.