July 3rd 2010 UFC 116, Brock Lesnar is declared the UFC Undisputed Heavyweight Champion and the No. 1 heavyweight fighter in MMA. October 23rd 2010 UFC 121, Brock Lesnar loses title to Cain Velasquez and falls back and loses his superman status. It's true that no fighter is unbeatable, and after Lesnar's demolition of Frank Mir, it seemed like he was the man to beat. Much like what happened to Fedor Emelianenko against Fabricio Werdum in June's Strikeforce event, the aura that surrounds this 280lb monster has faded.
Much has been made of Brock Lesnar's loss to Cain Velasquez with many people feeling that Brock is no longer among the elite of the heavyweight division. It's true that he has a lot of glaring holes in his game that urgently need attention mainly being his defensive ground game. Instead of turtling up, he needs to try and pull guard to try and at least limit the damage. Then again he's a wrestler and they hate being on their back. He does need to develop a knack of sticking to a game plan like Randy Couture and needs to improve his conditioning (which was in question after his battle with Couture and Velasquez).
Rather than joining the bandwagon of people writing off Brock Lesnar, I feel that I should put things in perspective a bit. Yes he's fairly new to the game, and yes he's a very inexperienced fighter. He is however 33 years old and has time to learn the errors of his ways. He is an outstanding wrestler and has unbelievable strength and speed. Lets not forget that this man was ill for over four months with a life threatening case of mononucleosis and diverticulitis. It's remarkable enough that hes survived through this horrible phase let alone beat Shane Carwin after surviving a barrage of strikes during his return bout in UFC 116. Not only did he have to regain his fitness but he had to prepare for a beast in Shane Carwin who demolished Frank Mir for the interim Heavyweight title. That would be a tall order for any man and he deserved all the credit for his victory.
Who should Brock Lesnar face next?
At that point he was the 'baddest man on the planet' and it would take someone fairly gifted to beat him. Unfortunately for Brock, Cain Velasquez is a gifted fighter who is strong in almost all areas of his game. Cain showed fantastic takedown defense against Lesnar and precision striking to beat him for the title. There is no shame in Brock losing to him and there's no doubt in my mind that he will bounce back from this loss.
In an earlier article, I suggested that he should fight Alistair Overeem should the UFC sign him. There's little chance of that happening with Overeem winning the 2010 K1 Grand Prix, he is obligated to defend it. Who the UFC will put against Brock Lesnar at this time I have no idea. A few names spring to mind like Roy Nelson, Cheick Kongo or Stefan Struve (maybe slightly premature for this to happen) but that's for Dana White and Joe Silva to worry about. My suggestion would be to give the fans what they want and let him fight Roy Nelson after he declared himself ready to fight in the UFC again.
Is Brock Lesnar among the best heavyweights in the world? Absolutely. Does he have the potential to become a champion again? Definitely. Is he ready to fight a Cain Velasquez or a Junior Dos Santos right now? No. He isn't ready yet to fight for the title and needs a few warm up matches before being in contention for the title. Many fighters say that the best way to test your skills and improvements are in the octagon and if we see a Brock Lesnar with a bigger gas tank and better striking defense, then may the lord have mercy on the souls of people who get in his way.