It was a mere 20 days ago that UFC 140 delivered with so many incredible fights with truly diverse finishes…amalgamating now, UFC 141 finished 2011 the way the mixed martial arts world likes it: full of excitement.
The night saw some great fights with a real war between Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone. Both men put up a great fight, but Diaz was the victor, showcasing an excellent display in his strikes for nearly all 15 minutes (though props has to be given to Donald as well for standing toe to toe and delivering some solid sweeps).
An impressive win also goes to Johny Hendricks for knocking out Jon Fitch in the first 12 seconds of Round 1. It’s the kind of fight that happened so fast that you almost want to see an immediate rematch to see what else these two very solid fighters could pull off. After all, months of training goes into a fight and for it to last only 12 seconds leaves some room for the imagination of what other possibilities could have gone down.
Speaking of knock outs, another Round 1 victory went to Alexander Gustafsson for punching Vladimir Matyushenko square in the jaw. Youth (Alexander is 24) persevered over experience (Vladimir is 40) tonight, but I give credit to both men. To Matyushenko, not many men in their 40’s can still do what you do…and to Gustafsson, now having a record of 13-1 will definitely help gain you some attention inside the octagon.
That was just a little recap of three fights (though there were some other solid ones as well), but now for the main event: Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem. Brock started the fight looking better on his feet than he did 14 months ago against Cain Velasquez and even landed an early left jab on Alistair’s right eyebrow that cut him open. It wasn’t too long after, however, that the much more experienced fighter in Alistair, delivered a few different, well placed knees to the body of Brock, followed by a hard left roundhouse kick to the liver/large intestine, that dropped the former UFC Champion to his knees. At this point, Alistair was in a great position to deliver some strong punches that despite some being blocked, referee Mario Yamasaki intelligently stopped the fight before any severe damage was done.
With that TKO victory, Overeem’s record became 36-11-1 and Lesnar’s went to 5-3. What happened afterwards was unexpected but totally understandable: Brock Lesnar at the age of 34 announced retirement from the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts. This is what he said in the octagon while being interviewed by Joe Rogan:
“My hat is off to Alistair Overeem. I’ve had a really difficult couple of years with my disease. I’m going to officially say that tonight is the last night you will see me in the Octagon. Brock Lesnar is officially retired…I promised my wife and my kids if I won this fight that I would get a title shot and that would be my last one, but if I lost tonight…everyone, you’ve been great.”
I give major credit to Brock for entering the world of MMA in the first place. He didn’t exactly begin his martial arts training as a young kid or 20 year old, all of his opponents from first to last were all much more experienced fighters with years of fights under their belts, and the man suffered from diverticulitis…twice, with the second time being severe enough that he needed 1 foot of his intestine removed and lost 14 months of being in the octagon as a result (that in itself can give you some unfavorable ring rust). Yet despite those shortcomings, he tried his best to take his tools which he had prior to his mixed martial arts debut (NCAA wrestling background and WWE associated athleticism) and mix them with 4 years of training in how to strike and submit/defend.
He’s won 5 out of 8 fights and yeah, it’s not the best of records but you know what he’s got to show for it? He tried his best. He became a UFC Heavyweight Champion. And most importantly, he’s got his health back and it will hopefully stay this way. I do have one “what if” scenario (and some people love them, whereas others hate them), but:
What if Brock Lesnar only stayed in the WWE from 2002-2003 and immediately began training in mixed martial arts at the age of 26? I’d imagine that if it was his focus from 2003-2007 to learn how to fight and before entering UFC, actually having had 5 years of dedicated MMA training, he could have fared a lot better. He’d still be the big draw, former WWE Champion Brock, but also one that was a lot better prepared.
In all honesty though, after turning 23 in 2000 and winning the NCAA Heavyweight Championship in wrestling, with a record of 106-5 in college (and 30-0 in his Senior Year of High School), it’s at that point in which he was the perfect candidate for MMA. He certainly would not have had the star power that he got out of the WWE, but a young, gifted athlete of that nature, coming off of a great pedigree in wrestling, would probably soak up skills like kickboxing, karate, and jiu jitsu like a sponge…and would then be an 8 year practitioner of the game before his Octagon debut, “with” his wrestling prowess.
Anyways, enough about the “what if’s”, but it is fun postulate. Brock, smart move in retiring tonight. You made the right choice. Now go enjoy your retired life with your wife and kids and try to stay healthy! Thank you for 8 entertaining fights, because regardless of whether people loved or hated you, they couldn’t help but watch and that in itself helped the sport grow and at the end of the day, that’s what’s important. Good luck to you, sir.