There are many things you can say about Brock Lesnar’s career as it stands so far.
A former UFC champion with only a handful of fights against a fairly legendary list of opponents in such a short amount of time, Lesnar is easily the most polarizing fighter in the sport.
Good or bad, the one thing about Lesnar is that he never steps away from a challenge. In less than 10 fights he’s fought two former champions in Frank Mir (twice) and Randy Couture, Pride heavyweight stalwart Heath Herring, current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and former UFC interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin.
Outside of Min-Soo Kim, who didn’t transition well into MMA after an Olympic medal in judo, it’s impossible to argue that Lesnar is taking easy fights or that he was built up slowly. Lesnar was never one to want to go slowly, per UFC president Dana White, and coming back for the second time from a disease that nearly killed him (diverticulitis) is a marvel in and of itself.
Lensar’s choice of his comeback fight opponent shows that he has to be 100 percent healthy. And perhaps a bit of a lunatic for stepping back in after over a year off against the reigning K-1 world champion — with no fights in between.
In taking on one of the few men ranked ahead of him on any heavyweight Top 10 in Alistair Overeem at UFC 141, Lesnar is showing that he’s not going to take any step back in his career with his fight following a TKO loss to current heavyweight champion Velasquez.
Lesnar, 34, did recently make a video shot declaring himself a “new man,” and taking a fight like this shows he really feels healthy. You don’t take a fight with someone like Overeem if you’re not coming in at what you feel is your best health. Already training for his comeback, Lesnar now has nearly three months to get ready for the next big test of his career. And Overeem represents a test both in and out of the cage.
Big questions remain about Lesnar’s health and his ability to push his body to the limits that a professional fighter has to, particularly since his body failed him once before while training. Lesnar is a specimen of a human being and part of his success comes from his particular athletic abilities. Lesnar the fighter has an athletic advantage over nearly anyone he steps in a cage with based on pure athletic ability alone. Being the last man cut trying to make an NFL roster after over a decade away from the game, with a torn groin no less, takes a special type of athletic ability that can’t be coached or learned.
Before his illness, Lensar rapidly came up through the UFC ranks in part because of this freakish combination of strength, size and speed. It was a huge part of his game and how people prepared for him; you could deny a lot about Lesnar but you couldn’t deny that he was a special type of athlete.
How much of it he has left, especially as he’s leaving his athletic prime, is something to be gauged with this fight.
Forget about the intricacies of his particular fighting style and how it’ll play against Overeem for a minute: having a foot of colon removed is going to change any person. How it affects Lesnar is going to be noticeable from the get go. He’s lost a year of his fighting career due to inactivity from this and it’s not like he spent most of it training; a large portion of it was recovering from a major surgery that changes the way he’s going to live for the rest of his life.
If Lesnar didn’t feel like he was before this all happened, he wouldn’t have taken the fight. How much fight he has left in him, though, is going to be seen in the last UFC card of 2011.