Lesnar shouldn't rush into mega-fight
Nate Lawson, Inside Fights
The UFC is wasting little time getting its heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar back into the octagon.
Lesnar, whose career was in jeopardy following a months-long battle with diverticulitis, is slated to fight this summer to crown an undisputed champion. A bout with whomever wins the UFC 111 interim heavyweight title match between Frank Mir and Shane Carwin would be intriguing.
But looking at the circumstances, throwing Lesnar into a super-fight against Mir or Carwin right off the bat may not be the best move by the UFC.
In his short time with the promotion, Lesnar has already proved the fact that he is The Man in terms of pay-per-view buys. No other fighter has entered MMA equipped with the necessary tools to bring in the bucks the same way Lesnar has.
This fact begs the question as to why the UFC is so eager to throw him up against the winner of Carwin-Mir, when regardless of opponent, Lesnar will be able to turn a pay-per-view into gold.
He hasn’t fought since UFC 100 in July. He had to pull out of a November title defense with the intestinal illness and a bout of mononucleosis. He lost 40 pounds because of his illnesses, a significant number considering Lesnar goes about 290 outside the octagon.
Because of this, the UFC should look to an alternative in terms of a matchup for Lesnar. As much attention and anticipation will be brought onto a fight between Lesnar and the future interim champion, a fight against the Cain Velasquez-Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera winner at February’s UFC 110 would suit Lesnar, the future interim champion and the promotion best.
The winner of Nogueira vs. Velasquez could very well be hyped as a top contender if the interim champion is unable to unify the belts with Lesnar. Also, the timing simply works out better — Mir and Carwin fight in late March, giving them little time to prepare for a summer bout. Velasquez or Nogueira could more easily be ready for a title fight at UFC 114 or UFC 115.
Yet, the overruling factor here is that whether Lesnar fights the future interim heavyweight champion or the winner of Velasquez-Nogueira, the fans will be tuning in the see the return of the charismatic and controversial heavyweight champion.
The UFC’s best interest lies in matching Lesnar against a qualified contender in Nogueira or Velasquez, which will give the former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar an opportunity to ease back into competition without facing the obvious top two contenders in Mir or Carwin, while bringing in enormous pay-per-view numbers for a promotion that is coming off poor sales of the injury-riddled UFC 108 card.
A matchup between Lesnar and the interim champion would certainly bring in huge numbers as well, but the timing would likely not be ideal for the Mir-Carwin winner. And if Lesnar gains a victory this summer, the Mir-Carwin winner will be the next fight for the champion, still giving the UFC its opportunity to bank on the huge matchup at the end of 2010.
At this point, the only guarantee is that Brock Lesnar will sell pay-per-views regardless of his opponent and the UFC shouldn’t rush into a mega-fight with its most marketable commodity.