For better or worse, Brock Lesnar is built like a cartoon action hero; with the down side being that people expect him to move like one too. So when he moves cautiously and tentatively as was the case in last night’s title fight against Randy Couture, he ends up looking like a dud, even in victory. This is exactly what happened at the much hyped and curiously anticipated UFC 91 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV last night (Nov. 15, 2008).
Lesnar’s “victory” came in at 3.07 minutes of round two after a glancing blow to the head (behind Couture’s left ear) brought the aging champion down.
Lesnar moved in on the supine Couture with a series of awkward one-handed chops to the face which led the referee to jump in and stop the fight.
This sudden end did nothing to spice up a fight which had been characterized more by droll clinches than by brilliant punches or holds. (Even the lack-luster under-card produced more thrilling moments than the ballyhooed marquee event. That is just how bad things were last night.) What will forever stick in my mind is the picture of a suddenly energized Lesnar, frantically and awkwardly wailing on Couture with the edge of his hand like a school girl. Like they say down in Texas, “It darn wa’rnt pretty that pi’ture.”
Colonial, a fan at MMA Fanhouse describes these strikes as “cheesy little hammerfists haven’t knocked anyone out yet. He looks like he is hitting for points rather than damage most of the time.”
Lesnar walked away with the belt, but not the aura of the man he had just defeated. The fight was not what the peanut gallery had paid to see ….. Definitely not the stuff of its wet dreams.
Monsieur Couture, au contraire, walked away a winner just for standing up to a brute who was supposed to pound him into the ground and wipe the octagon with his blood. He has nothing to be ashamed of concerning his showing in this contest. If anything, he proved that MMA has a cadre of technicians – erstwhile custodians of skills and values that transcend brute force. The old lion had to contend with a size and age differential of 50 pounds and 14 years respectively. The 15-month break from fighting was probably the least of Couture’s disadvantages because , as he said in his post-fight interview, his training was as close to the real deal as anyone could get outside the actual octagon.
Meanwhile, smarmy Dana White has a problem to contend with. If he was looking for a new poster boy for hi the heavyweight division, he struck out last night because Brock Lesnar ain’t it. He may have the pumped-up pecs for it, but he sorely lacks the style and substance to be “The One” in the way Chuck Liddell perhaps was. Love or hate Chuck’s one trick schtick, he put most of his opponents away with a pizazz that lent a lot “schizzle” to MMA in general and UFC in particular.
The fact of the matter is that Lesnar now has an element of the Mike Tyson problem after Buster Douglas bust his chops and Evander Holyfield exposed his vulnerabilities. The aura of presumed invincibility left Lesnar the day Frank Mir put a sneaky leg lock on him and the Heath Herring drew him out into a rope-a-dope snoozer of a fight. Lesnar has come to be the MMA equivalent of a Shaquille O’Neal; a man who wins games but doesn’t have what it takes to be the quintessential symbol of the NBA a la Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James or Kevin Garnet. The same Shaq who is as famous for winning games for his team is also known as for tossing bricks at the free-throw line.(Remember “hack a Shaq“?) Barring some mercurial transformation of his chops (no pun intended), Lesnar seems destined for that checkered reputation; i.e. being valued more for his heft than his sharpness. It’s not good enough for what Dana White has in mind for his flagship organization, and it certainly isn’t good enough for what Lesnar traded in when he left the WWE ring.
Meanwhile Randy has some thinking to do. Noone who saw him last night thought he didn’t have one or two fights left in him. However with so much new talent coming into the UFC/MMA, he needs to be plotting a more dignified exit before he encounters his own Ken Shamrock or Royce Gracie moment.