Does the UFC’s most imposing physical specimen, former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, have enough to get through a demanding challenger to the title, like Junior Dos Santos?
No, Brock might as well be fighting the physics of gravity hoping to get past Dos Santos than having a chance against his recently acquired nemesis and current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
It was only six months ago when Velasquez climbed the Brock submit to win the precious UFC gold, a victory that caused many to question Brock’s resilience and heart as a mixed martial artist at the top level.
Velasquez fed Lesnar buffalo bully bombs in the first round, causing a memorable Brock disco .GIF and a huge momentum shift, defeating the then-champ for the prized heavyweight strap.
Brock took his beating in a disappointing fashion as a champion, curling up in a ball as Cain rained down unanswered shots. The lost proved that Brock’s prominence in MMA was still beating strong after such a defeat—fans were still clamoring for what he was going to do next.
With the world waiting for Brock’s next move, there were rumors of a WWE comeback against the Undertaker at WrestleMania or a general retirement from the sport he entered not too long ago.
After hunting in the wild Dakota habitat, Brock shaved the beard, collected bucks and decided to sign on as an Ultimate Fighter Season 13 coach—a shocking decision when compared to the reclusive persona that he had built.
After Velasquez injured his rotator cuff towards the beginning of the year, being the No. 1 contender wasn’t the prized position in the company. Coming off a convincing 2010—two finishes over Gilbert Yvel and Gabriel Gonzaga and a decision win over Roy Nelson—Dos Santos was eager to fill in the time.
The Ultimate Fighter coach spot happened to be a natural spot for both Dos Santos and Lesnar.
The first episode debuted tonight on Spike TV. So nobody knows for sure how Brock or Dos Santos (not the most veteran English speaker on the roster) will excel as coaches, but the bottom line for each man is this: They will enter the Octagon together to settle who will more than likely become the next challenger for Cain Velasquez.
Before Brock Lesnar can even begin to dream about another shot at Velasquez, he has to overcome the great wall of Dos Santos that lies right in front of him. As intriguing and appealing as Brock has become in the MMA world, there are serious concerns as to whether he can absorb strikes like most other professional fighters.
Not to beleaguer the former champ—he never got a chance to build from a proper amateur career—but after the Shane Carwin and Cain fight, Lesnar’s ability to withstand punches as been put into question by many pundits and fans alike.
Unfortunately for Brock and his chin, once TUF concludes, he will have to engage a tremendous striker in Dos Santos towards the beginning of this summer. Many Brock fans cringe at the idea of Dos Santos unloading his “Cain-like” punches, especially if the Brazilian establishes control of the Octagon and pressures the big man into the cage.
Noting past historic sentiment, leading up to the Cain fight, Brock’s saving grace against the smaller opponent was his take-down, being able to control the pace and punish from top position. Clearly, he wasn’t able to get that far, failing to withstand the punishment on the feet from a determined competitor like Cain.
What will be different for Brock in a fight against Dos Santos? Determining who has better hands in the heavyweight division between Dos Santos and Velasquez is difficult; both have proven their punching dominance in the Octagon.
As enthralling as Brock is, a lot heavily relieves on his ability to tap into his collegiate wrestling skills to take somebody down to the mat for the win. There’s no doubt Brock was thrown to the wolves in his young MMA career, but that’s the accepted risk taken by somebody getting fast-tracked in the division.
Despite his mystical allure and size, Brock has to rely on one method of victory against Dos Santos, which is highly questionable leading up to the fight—his chances of scoring a take down before getting crushed by strikes.
What makes Brock’s resurgence towards regaining the title less likely is the impossible task of avoiding Dos Santos stand up and consecutively Velasquez’ striking, again.
Not to take anything away from Lesnar, he has put his neck out on the line trying something completely new late in the game at the older age of 30. His bout against the true No. 1 heavyweight contender will ensure a fight between Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos—a fight fans have been begging for since the beginning of 2010.
Here's to hoping this season of The Ultimate Fighter is worth seeing Brock Lesnar hit that invisible glass ceiling. Unless there's incredible reality TV at hand, a potential fight between Lesnar and Dos Santos becomes a tough, one-sided sell.
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