Is Brock Lesnar Cowardly Ducking Junior Dos Santos?

Darren WongSenior Analyst IMay 14, 2011

Is Brock Lesnar Cowardly Ducking Junior Dos Santos?

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    When Brock Lesnar pulled out of his UFC 131 fight with Junior Dos Santos, he immediately set off a firestorm of speculation about his motives and place in mixed martial arts.

    Questioning Lesnar's heart has been a popular pastime for many fans of the UFC and of MMA because as we all know, "Lesnar isn't a real fighter."

    Lesnar's history as a professional "fake wrestler" once again rears its head as people question him and whether his illness isn't just another phony part of what some MMA fans see as an illegitimate MMA career.

    Here's everything you need to know about Brock Lesnar's illness and what it says about his career in MMA.

Understanding Diverticulitis

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    When it comes to fighter injuries, fans tend to have a lack of understanding or appreciation.

    Some fans have said that Lesnar's diverticulitis is proof of steroid use, as diverticulitis is usually only found in the middle-aged and elderly.

    Yet suggesting a link between steroid use and diverticulitis ignores most of the evidence we have at hand.

    A Google search using "steroids" and "diverticulitis" as keywords will give you plenty of results, but mostly only other forums with people trying to make the link in the case of Brock Lesnar.

    You'll be hard-pressed to find any evidence of a link between anabolic steroids and diverticulitis that is more than simple fan speculation.

    What you will find is that corticosteroids, not anabolic ones, may be a contributing factor in diverticulits.

    Furthermore, the other cause you'll find is a low fiber diet, which would quite accurately describe the "meat and potatoes" lifestyle Lesnar admits to following.

Does Brock Lesnar Lack Heart?

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    Lacking any real evidence linking diverticulitis to steroid use, fans then move on to speculating about how Lesnar could have "gutted it out." Or that he's a hair or two away from leaving the sport, thus proving that he's not a real fighter.

    This is strange to me, because Lesnar is no stranger to adversity.

    Lesnar could have quit MMA after losing to Frank Mir, but instead Lesnar hired a BJJ coach and learned from his mistakes.

    When Lesnar was first diagnosed with diverticulitis, he could have easily walked away from the sport then, but instead decided to continue, and has since fought against Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez.

    In both of those fights, Lesnar again displayed a tough will by hanging around as long as possible.

    Against Carwin, Lesnar was hurt badly, but he weathered the storm and came back from a situation where most fighters would have just thrown in the towel.

    Against Velasquez, Lesnar was dropped to the ground multiple times, but got back up to his feet, still refusing to give up.

    So while Lesnar might not have shown the greatest instincts in those situations by his poor reaction to punches, his will to fight, which is ultimately what we have control over, should be unquestionable.

Questionable Pullouts

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    Lesnar also seems to face an extra amount of scrutiny when it comes to his decisions to pull out of a fight.

    But if you're going to criticize Lesnar for withdrawing, there are far more fishy circumstances involving other fighters who people have not questioned so thoroughly.

    Jon Jones pulled out of a fight with Rashad Evans due to a nagging injury that was bothering him, but that he could have ignored had he really wanted to fight Evans sooner rather than later. Instead, Jones made the choice to take some extra time off.

    BJ Penn's recent shoulder injury seems to be questionable as well because while it was severe enough to withdraw from UFC 132, it wasn't severe enough to stop him from participating in training seminars, or training sessions with other high-profile fighters.  In Penn's case, it almost seems as if he decided that if he wasn't going to fight against Fitch, he didn't want to fight on the card at all, which makes even more sense when you consider that Penn had also once vowed never to fight in Las Vegas again after the UFC 94 greasing incident.

    Gray Maynard pulled out of UFC 130 under similar circumstances.  Many media outlets have hinted that Maynard's pullout has far more to do with him not wanting to lose his title shot with Frank Edgar than with any injury.

    Yet none of these fighters have faced the disbelief that Lesnar has faced, despite the medical professionals that have already spoken on his behalf as to the seriousness of his condition.

Leaving the Sport?

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    Despite the fact that Lesnar has denied having any intentions of an immediate retirement, when Dave Meltzer wrote an article speculating that Lesnar may be leaving MMA, people jumped on the idea to show that it meant Lesnar doesn't have a fighter's spirit.

    Again, Lesnar seems to be held to a different standard than other fighters.

    BJ Penn has often talked about wanting to leave the sport of MMA, and nobody has ever accused him of lacking a fighter's spirit.

    There are other examples...

Crossover Stars

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    Aside from BJ Penn, many other fighters have talked about premature exits from the sport of MMA.

    Quinton Jackson has said that he'll leave MMA when he gets paid more money for his "acting."

    Gina Carano, Roger Huerta, and Cung Le have all taken large breaks from MMA, and few people have criticized them for not being fighters.

    On the contrary, MMA fans have been cheer-leading their attempts to crossover into mainstream entertainment.

    Meanwhile, Lesnar's attempts to crossover from pro wrestling into MMA have been met with anger and derision.

    Again, we have a double standard where it seems to be okay for MMA fighters to cross over into other businesses but it isn't okay for somebody to cross over into MMA from professional wrestling, even though Lesnar's background in amateur wrestling made him an ideal candidate.

The Difference Between Brock Lesnar and "Real Fighters"

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    Eventually, Brock Lesnar will leave the UFC and MMA behind him and it will probably be sooner rather than later.

    Unlike many MMA fighters who fight for a living, Lesnar doesn't need the money.

    Lesnar makes a lot of money in the sport, but he had more than enough money to retire before he ever stepped into the Octagon.

    While there was significant financial incentive for Lesnar to enter the UFC, the fact that he entered the sport without any financial necessity separates him from a lot of fighters who continue fighting not for the love of the sport, but for financial reasons.

    Yet you rarely hear fans complain about other MMA mercenaries, and why would you? There's nothing more American than trying to make some money.

    But the fact that Brock Lesnar keeps fighting after losses, illnesses and without financial necessity is remarkable.

    Tell that to an MMA fan.

    The biggest difference between Lesnar and "real fighters" is that Lesnar doesn't need to fight.

    But he fights anyway.