Brock Lesnar: The 7 Tools Needed for Another UFC Title Run
Recently, former UFC heavyweight-champion Brock Lesnar announced his return to MMA after a long recovery from a second bout of diverticulitis. Following a surgical procedure that removed a significant portion of his colon, Lesnar has taken some time off and assures that he is at 100 percent.
"I feel like a new man. I feel healthy, strong—I feel like I used to feel." Lesnar said courtesy of a Fusion Ammunition ad.
With this statement, Brock has made it very clear that neither his health issues nor ring rust will affect his training or performance in a five-round title-eliminator bout which UFC president Dana White has targeted for UFC 141 in late December against K-1 champion Alistair Overeem. The victor will take on the winner of Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos on the first UFC on Fox.
Losing his belt to Cain Velasquez has served to prove to Lesnar and everyone else that there are gaping holes in his game. After being given top-quality opposition each bout, he has not had time to develop as a fighter. The new generation of heavyweights have arrived, and the former champion must evolve to keep up, let alone challenge for the title.
Lesnar has already achieved a great deal in mixed martial arts while not even close to his full potential as a fighter, and if he is indeed willing to learn and improve his overall game, we could potentially see an incredibly dominant Lesnar tearing up the heavyweight ranks once more.
Assuming that he will be 100-percent healthy and ready to make a run at the heavyweight title again, follow along as I walk through several points that he will need in order to not only fix the holes in his game, but he will add to and augment his arsenal to make him truly unstoppable in a division full of tough opponents.
7.) A Better Gameplan
When faced with the question, "What would be the first thing to worry about from Lesnar?" the guaranteed reply would be his takedowns. Anyone facing Lesnar would have to train takedown defense, as we saw plenty of from Junior Dos Santos against late replacement Shane Carwin. Lesnar is just too powerful of a wrestler and would smother the jiu jitsu specialists on the ground.
However, this makes him terribly predictable. During UFC 116, Brock attempted a very early takedown and got easily stuffed by Carwin.
Then, during UFC 121, he attempted to grapple with Cain Velasquez in the opening seconds of the fight and was fended off while Cain had a full tank of gas.
This is the worst gameplan I have seen since Bisping repeatedly circling towards the H-bomb of Dan Henderson.
6.) Learn to Fight off His Back
Many wrestlers are clearly uncomfortable working off their backs in MMA. Lesnar is no different.
While he has the right idea in hiring Brazilian Jiu jitsu world champion Rodrigo "Comprido" Medeiros as his coach, they focus heavily on what Lesnar does in top position and how to defend against submissions.
This is an understandable gameplan, but Lesnar has been put on his back two bouts in a row now and both times looked to be lost with no idea how to work his way back up. If he was able to learn how to work off his back, he would fare better in the deep waters if he ended up there again and might even go for a submission or reversals from the bottom.
5.) A Precision Jab
The jab is one of the most important strikes in mixed martial arts. It creates distance, a proxy between you and your opponent, and can lead to many different options as a setup.
Brock Lesnar moves like a welterweight and has the potential to utilize a particularly nasty jab. Thanks to Georges St-Pierre, we've seen what the jab can do to a man's face. And thanks to Heath Herring, we've seen what Lesnar's fist can do to someone's face.
If he was able to develop a very quick, stiff jab, it would establish more openings for the takedown since his opponents would worry about keeping their hands up—Lesnar does have quite the reach. Furthermore, it would open up the striking lanes for him and give him much more confidence in the standup.
4.) Unorthodox Methods
We have seen past usage of strategies and techniques that while out of the ordinary, are highly effective. The two best fighters that are known for utilizing them are Jon Jones and Anderson Silva and both are champions in their respective weight divisions.
Both also tend to completely dominate and finish their fights as well.
The addition of crazy, off-the-wall techniques like spinning backfists and Capoeira kicks would not only serve to make Lesnar more lethal during the stand up, they would add multiple threats to consider in the Octagon other than just going for the takedown repeatedly.
If Lesnar were able to put an opponent in a situation they were not trained to expect or react to, it would be a very short night.
3.) Tweaks to the DeathClutch Facility
While I think Lesnar has the right idea in setting up a training camp and team focused solely towards the rapid development of himself as a fighter, changes to need to be made in that gym.
I'm not saying to fire all of the staff and give the thumb to Marty Morgan, but he needs to bring some elite people to train with, especially in the striking department. Lesnar needs confidence in his standup, at least enough to be able to hold his own, and not to build his entire gameplan around his wrestling. A few weeks at Black House with Anderson Silva would work wonders.
There is also a rumor popularized through Bas Rutten that people who train with him at DeathClutch are not allowed to hit Lesnar too hard during practice. If this is true, that might be the most awful way to train ever.
2.) Elusive Movement
It seems as if Brock Lesnar's idea of "head movement" during a bad situation is simply to duck his head downwards and turn to the side.
Ironically, this only serves to make his head an even easier target.
Movement and footwork inside the Octagon comparable to the likes of Rashad Evans and Dominick Cruz would immediately make Lesnar much more of a threat and from multiple angles than his steadier, wrestling southpaw. He has the quickness to be able to move like those two and the cardio to back it up for a five-round fight.
1.) Reacting Better to Getting Hit
This one is all over the Internet and phrased several different ways.
During both his bouts with Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez, Lesnar has been heavily outstruck and reacted as though he didn't know what to do once the punches started raining down.
Give credit towards Lesnar for not succumbing in the first twenty seconds of Cain's onslaught. Not many heavyweights in the division would be able to take such a severe beating and last as long as he did. The question isn't his chin at all—otherwise the fight would have been over much faster.
The man can take a punch. If he's still in a bad situation, backing away and curling up into the fetal position is not the smart way to defend. Brock needs to learn how to fight when put in difficult situations.
Marty Morgan needs to make him watch the first round between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard at UFC 125 and say, "This is what you need to do when you start getting punched in the face really hard."