At UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar, announced his retirement from the sport of MMA. Nothing about this move was surprising, as many figured he wasn't going to have another fight before his tilt with Alistair Overeem was announced. Leave it to a patented Uberknee and the slightly inferior-sounding Uberliverkick to force a man into retirement. Doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it?
Still, it's curious to see the varied responses in regards to Lesnar. Most consider him a joke, a sideshow who was brought in for eyeballs and for the most part, that is how he got started. Lesnar got a title shot very early on and wouldn't you know it, he started to do well. It's interesting to see how fans are treating his retirement. Many of the people who were his fans are thanking him for the things he did, a lot of his previous detractors are actually grateful for the eyeballs he brought to the sport, and there are quite a few who legitimately believe he is one of the better heavyweights of this generation.
Could that be true? Let's take a look at the numbers.
Lesnar finished his MMA career with just a 5-3 record, winning four of those fights in the UFC, and losing three. In his first ever UFC fight, Lesnar fought perennial contender and former interim UFC Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir. He lost that fight by submission, but looked good before it was applied. Following that, Lesnar beat down Heath Herring, before challenging Randy Couture for the UFC title. Lesnar won via TKO in the second round, and then went on to avenge his loss to Mir by brutalizing him in the second round. Following that, he came from behind to submit Shane Carwin to defend his title a second time.
After that, he lost to Cain Velasquez, which was followed by his lost to Overeem on Friday. Keep in mind, only two other fighters have ever defended the UFC Heavyweight title on two consecutive occasions: Couture, and Tim Sylvia. Lesnar is also the only fighter to defend the title against two former champions. Six of Lesnar's seven fights in the UFC were against former champions of major organizations - five from the UFC, and Overeem, who has held titles in Strikeforce, Dream and outside of MMA in K-1.
All of those things considered, it's a lot easier to remember Lesnar a little bit more positively. Was he over-hyped? Certainly so (and personally, this writer is not a fan of his), but the things he did were far beyond what could have legitimately been expected of him from a level-headed standpoint. Now, it's certainly true that Lesnar received the title shot against Couture because of his name and his history with the WWE, but shouldn't we be grateful for that?
Lesnar brought eyeballs to the sport, and the potential circus-fight element of it all was somewhat invalidated by the fact that he actually, you know, won fights with the premier MMA organization in the world. He brought a lot of eyeballs to the sport. UFC 100 was a turning point for the UFC and the sport of MMA, and without Lesnar, who knows where they'd be right now? Certainly not broke and destitute, but what about the new deal with Fox? What if that doesn't materialize?
Think what you want about the legitimacy of Lesnar and his merits as a fighter, but everyone should be happy that he was in the UFC, all things considered. Plus, we wouldn't have got to see Velasquez maul him and Overeem get a nice boost from beating him the way we all knew he would.