Brock Lesnar Wins UFC Heavyweight Title....Respect from MMA Purists May Come Later

Former WWE Champion Brock Lesnar won the UFC Heavyweight Title Saturday night in Las Vegas with a 2nd round TKO over UFC legend Randy Couture. Perhaps now MMA purists will acknowledge Lesnar's athletic abilities and not hold his tenure in the entertainment world of the WWE against him. But somehow I doubt it....at least not for now. 

The pro wrestling bias has never been more prominently displayed than by what I perceive to be a vocal minority of MMA fans against Lesnar simply because he signed with the WWE after an outstanding amateur wrestling career that was topped off by winning a NCAA Heavyweight Title in 2000 after finishing 2nd in the NCAA's in 1999 while wrestling for the University of Minnesota. 

When my fellow WWE officials first saw Lesnar,  it did not take a Mensa member to ascertain what an amazing physical specimen that he was. As the head of the WWE Talent Relations department at that time and ultimately responsible for finding, signing, and monitoring the training of future WWE stars, signing Brock was a no brainer. He flourished in the Louisville based training camp and was one of the great amateurs like Danny Hodge and Jack Brisco to make a virtual seamless transition from the amateur world of wrestling, the world's oldest recognized sport, to the world of entertainment/show biz  featuring great athletes aka pro wrestling. 

Brock's journey to the main roster in the WWE wasn't without its bumps in the road but collectively we got through them and Lesnar progressed in rapid fashion to the main talent roster of the WWE. Lesnar was earning 7 figures faster than any rookie I ever signed in my role in the talent department in the WWE and that includes such stars as Dwayne 'The Rock" Johnson and Kurt Angle.

Unfortunately Brock hated the amount of travel that it took to be a main event star in the WWE and earn the type of money that came with his "spot." He left the WWE primarily due to travel issues and embarked on another adventure as Brock tried to earn a roster spot with the NFL's  Minnesota Vikings.

When the NFL did not work out, Brock turned back to his long time roots and parlayed his grappling skills and amazing athletic gifts by signing with the UFC. Lesnar's name identity that he developed globally with the WWE made Brock marketable from day one but it also came with a pre-conditioned identity. Lesnar was a former pro wrestler and that stigma made the South Dakota farm boy a marked man from day one by many UFC fans. 

UFC promoters discovered what many successful pro wrestling promoters had known for years and that is their fan base would pay big money to see someone get their ass beat if that individual represented what the majority of the fan base disliked which could come in a variety of incarnations.  In the annals of pro wrestling, that could mean an evil  "German", a diabolical "Japanese", a menacing "Masked Man", or a flamboyant "Loud Mouth" among many personas.

Lesnar was none of these but he did have the "distasteful" pro wrestling stigma attached to him that will be a part of his UFC bio until the day he retires. Never mind that the guy was a superb amateur wrestler long before his short albeit successful stint in the WWE. "Dammit the guy was one of those pro 'rasslers and those guys have no business in any form of MMA."  Wrong.  

Simply being billed as a former WWE Champion was enough to make some MMA fans "hate" the 6'3"-275 pounder from day one. By the boos I heard Saturday night on PPV,  many UFC hardcore's still despise Lesnar and perhaps even more so now that Lesnar is "their" heavyweight champion and more specifically because Brock defeated "Captain America", the beloved, and deservedly respected, Randy Couture in such a dominating, no questions asked fashion. BTW Couture is a class act and a credit to the UFC. Hopefully, Couture will go down in weight and continue to fight as one can't help but love his passion and warrior spirit.  

However, now the UFC can promote Lesnar vs. virtually any qualified, MMA born and bred heavyweight they choose and the fans will be on board in the hopes of seeing Brock humbled and, more pointedly, beaten to a pulp. 

The same pro wrestling methodology that has been around for decades is now exactly what MMA hardcore fans are buying into. 

Of course, according to some of the MMA vocal minority, I, being a proud member of the pro wrestling community for many years,  have no business writing about a sport of which I am a huge fan on a website that our company owns. Shame on me. 

The pro wrestling bias isn't new nor is it going away any time soon. Some former wrestlers have reluctantly had to distance themselves from the genre to become successful in other fields. That's not because these individuals don't respect the fans or the wrestling business but it's because the decision makers of their new endeavors don't want to be associated with the wrestling biz.  

That's sad.

Brock Lesnar will likely never earn the full respect of the die hard, MMA, hard core fans. That's their loss. Lesnar is not without his faults, the same as any other human, but no one with a modicum of common sense can deny Brock's God given athletic gifts and the fact that because of his upbringing and his amateur wrestling background that Lesnar has a work ethic, and an ego, that will drive him to be the best in his field. 

I have seen this first hand but of course my opinion, being that of a 'rasslin announcer, means little. 

Brock Lesnar was "The Next Big Thing" at one time in the WWE and he is definitely "The Next Big Thing" today in the UFC. I expect Lesnar to continue to improve his MMA skills with his burning desire to be the best in his field.  The self proclaimed purists of the MMA world can like it or not but for sure they will keep buying tickets and pay per views to see one of their own destroy Lesnar.           

      

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I am really proud of Brock. I actually didn't think he'd win because Couture's tough stuff. But he proved me and everyone else wrong so good job Brock. I never doubted him because of his past as a WWE Star. I just didn't figure he could beat that guy just yet.

Anyway, I think it's really sad that the WWE has a bad rap. I don't understand why some people hate the business so much. I suppose most people hate or fear what they don't understand but still... The WWE is the biggest entertainment business in the world. Our WWE wrestlers are known in almost every country. No other sport is that  big. Also, the men in women who wrestle for the WWE work harder than any other athletes in the world. Their travel schedule makes me cringe and I'm sure they are away from their families more than they'd care to. And yet...tonight we'll have Survivor Series and then the same men and women that bust their asses at the PPV, will bust their asses again Monday night to put on a hell of a Monday Night Raw. People who diss the wrestling biz makes me want to  slap them. I will be quick to defend this business because even at 21 years old, I can clearly see how hard they work for us. (You included too JR)

Well, good luck tonight. It will be interesting to see how Jeff does tonight. Also I can't wait to see John Cena. He's the other person that I get all defensive about. He works harder than a lot of the superstars yet so many people hate him. Gahh I for one, am hoping for Shawn and Cena to get Raw back in kickbutt gear because right now, your Smackdown is kicking Raw's butt!

One more thing JR, I heard Christian was in negotiations with the WWE. Any truth to this? Good luck tonight!

Miss T

I will NEVER refer to HBK or any of the WWE Superstars as just mere 'Entertainers'. They are hard working, respectable wrestlers that deserve respect.

"I will put on a show like you've never, ever seen before. Why? Because I can."~~~~ The Main Event

I actually don't understand why we're talking about something like MMA when we have something much more interesting to talk about, like: next week John Cena returns, Randy Orton has returned, Edge, I Think may return soon too; Jeff Hardy deserves a punishment by The Undertaker or will he be put in a 3-way match against Kozlov and Triple H?

Pro Wrestling is THE perfect form of entertainment, it has drama, it has fun, it has action and violence, it's perfect.

Pro Wrestling has been around for about 60 years, right? MMA? How long? 90s? How long they will last? How many people in the world would pay to see an MMA event rather than attending an event, not necessarily a Wrestling event, with one among Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Goldberg, Cena, HHH, HBK? I highly doubt that they will ever match the excitement of a Wrestling show or storyline.

Their fans like to talk about how tough their business is, but how long one of their athletes would endure the WWE schedule? Fighting on Sunday and on Monday? I'd rather be in 10 MMA fights rather than in 1 TLC.

Who cares what they think? However a "showman" beat one of their "tough fighters", but who cares? I certainly don't and wait for Survivor Series.

Amen.

I have been a WWE fan longer than I can remember.

I have the utmost respect for every person that works for the WWE,past,present and future.

And I do meen everyone,truck drivers pyro techs,cable pullers,etc,etc.

Thank You J.R.

For all your hard work

J Miller

MMA fans haven't given Brock much respect in the past, but they certainly are now. If you check out any of the major MMA forums (mmaweekly.com or sherdog.com) you'll see this. Once new rankings are released, I guarantee Brock will be listed as a top 10 heavyweight in the world, most likely in the 4-8 range.

I would like to say that WWE.com's article on Brock's win is tasteless and inaccurate. It says"
 

"Critics have noted that many of the fights on the UFC pay-per-view ended in the first round, leaving UFC producers scrambling to fill the three-hour event with content. The dearth of hearty competition left many viewers to watch less prestigious under-card fights and only served to bolster claims that UFC pay-per-view events can often be a "crap shoot" in regards to filling the full three hours."

This is simply incorrect for multiple reasons:

1) Fans like to see fights finished, not go to decisions.

2) Fans want to see as many bouts as they can, so they actually complain when they DON'T get to see undercard fights.

The article makes it sound as though fans want long, drawn-out fights that go to decisions, so they aren't forced to watch undercard fights, when the exact opposite is true. I don't see why the WWE wants to bash the UFC, but if it is going to do so anyways, it should actually fight legit criticisms.

Two Thoughts:

First,  I wish Brock Lesnar all the best in his UFC Career.  The more successful he is there, the less likely he is to come back to wrestling.  So stay there, Brock.  Really, have fun with the "real" fighting.  Adios.

Second, with the greatest respect for you, Mister Ross, consider this.  You, a UFC fan, will be hated and chided by "hardcore" UFC "insiders" because you're reviewing UFC on a website.  Just as you, a "hardcore" wrestling "insider" chides those fans who review wrestling on websites.  Now you know how it feels.  Maybe you'll be a little more understanding of wrestling internet journalism in future.

Aracalian

There’s a difference between commentary and journalism. It’s the sites that can’t differentiate between the two JR likely has issues with.

F5Fury

I personally think there is a big MMA / Pro Wrestling connection, especially when you look back at the days of catch wrestling with hookers and shooters – legit tough guys who know how to crank limbs and make you cry uncle. So I wouldn’t discount one to boost the other because I think it is an exercise in futility. UFC is honing its ‘Show’ element while keeping things organic and not predetermined. Show wrestling was developed when shoot matches ended too fast in order to maximise crowds and profits, but UFC doesn’t need to do that. However I am left wondering if the art of the catch is becoming lost in the current generation of Pro Wrestling.

JR

Excellent commentary JR, first time replier to your blog, but I’ve been reading for a while. Muhammed Ali wouldn’t be as iconic if he hadn’t picked up a trick or two from Gorgeous George, right? It's all about understanding the Show and the Business.

Most of the people I know that dislike Brock Lesnar, myself included, do so because he's disrespectful, smug, and carries one of the ugliest senses of entitlement I've ever seen, and most of all because he's getting a huge push to the top without paying dues, not because he was involved with pro-wrestling.  Fighters like Kazushi Sakuraba and Josh Barnett are among the most respected in the sport, regardless of their pro-wrestling background.  I have a ton of respect for Brock's abilites and he looks like a natural in the ring-- but the dislike is for much the same reason people dislike Tito Ortiz, attitude, regardless of whether it's an act to sell tickets.  That said, that same attitude is going to win him tons of fans and the crowd reaction will be much more mixed the next time he comes out.

"The article makes it sound as though fans want long, drawn-out fights that go to decisions, so they aren't forced to watch undercard fights, when the exact opposite is true. I don't see why the WWE wants to bash the UFC, but if it is going to do so anyways, it should actually fight legit criticisms."
 

I think the point was that you don't really know what you are going to get for your money with a UFC show.  Last night's show cost $45 and was about 2 hours and 25 minutes long as there were many short matches.  That's more expensive and shorter than WWE and TNA PPVs, which cost $40 and $30 respectively, and last, typically, about 2 hours and 45 minutes.

well i would simply congratulate Brock Lesnar..

for now why dont have a check at the profile of the Supersexy WWE Diva "Torrie Wilson"...

http://wwe-scoops.com/2008/11/true-diva-torrie-wilson/

Last night at UFC 91 in Las Vegas, history was made when Brock Lesnar defeated the Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight title. This makes Lesnar the first man to hold the WWE Title and UFC Heavyweight Title. However I have to give two guys credit before I really start praising Lesnar. I really think that Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock proved about 10 years ago that you can be successful at both pro wrestling and MMA even though they are two different the Beasts. Although Lesnar is the first to hold both WWE Heavyweight and UFC Heavyweight Titles he is not the first man to hold an MMA title and a pro wrestling title. Ken Shamrock held won a UFC title, and also has won the WWE Intercontinental Championship, the WWE Tag Titles, and the NWA Heavyweight Title. Then you have Dan Severn, a man I have met and have great respect for. He has won a UFC Title, and won the NWA Heavyweight Title in wrestling. Unfortunately the NWA is not as big is use to be so both wins really went unnoticed by people. However I believe Lesnar is the first to make the transition from pro wrestling to MMA while Shamrock and Severn went from MMA to pro wrestling.

Now back to Lesnar, I love he didn't let the crowd get to him in this fight. Couture was definitely the fan favorite. I do have a lot of respect for Randy Couture and loved his fights with Chuck Liddell but it was Lesanrs night. The wonderful thing about Lesnar winning is now hopefully all the anti-pro wrestling fans that love UFC will now have to eat their words. I was in about 10 different chatrooms last night while this fight was going on. I heard a lot of things that just ticked me off. Let me give you some statements:

"The only reason most people are watching this fight is because the stupid wrestling fans are watching Brock Lesnar and they don't know anyone else."

"Wrestling doesn't take any bit of talent, and all pro wrestlers are not talented."

First off, I was watching UFC long before Brock Lesnar was there. I have old tapes from when Severn won his first UFC tournament, and the matches he had with Ken Shamrock. I also watched UFC Ultimate Fighter 1 everytime it was on. The thing that got me hooked was the Stephan Bonner and Forrest Griffin fight that really to me was the greatest fight ever in my opinion other then watching Severn maul through everyone at Return of the Beast. I've seen a few other good fights in my time like Griffin and Rampage Jackson and like I mentioned before Liddell and Coutures fights.

Now to say that pro wrestlers aren't talented really bothers me. Sure, it's not a legit sport and I am sure no one will consider it to be, but you just can't be any average person and climb in to a wrestling ring in think you're going to do whatever. Pro wrestling has a lot of physicality to it and people get injured all the time. Some of these guys have come back from major injuries like Kurt Angle, Triple H, John Cena and even Shawn Michaels. There are injuries in pro wrestling like any other sports and you have to keep your self in shape just like in every sport. I am passionate about pro wrestling, but I would never knock the UFC because it's just as awesome as pro wrestling to me. I just think it's ridiculious that MMA fans knock pro wrestling because they think it's all "fake." Well to those ignorant fans, a pro wrestler just came in took out two credible and respected fighters, and one of them is considered a legend. I am not rubbing it in, I am saying it's fact. Brock Lesnar has trained very hard to get to where he is and I know he is going to be a great champion.

In closing, I would like to congratulate Brock Lesnar on his win last night, and that I cannot wait until the fight to see who his next in-line to fight between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir at UFC 92. It should also be noted that Forrest Griffin will defend his UFC Light-Heavyweight Title against Rashad Evans, and Wanderlei Silva takes on Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. It's all on the same card on December 27th on PPV. It's going to be great. Again congrats to Brock Lesnar on becoming the new UFC Heavyweight Champion
 

Dearest JR,

I have been a fan of yours for a long time.  I remember your segments on WCCW (i think, i was little.)  I remember you talking about Kerry Von Erich, The Patriot and such.  After taking a break, your voice was one of the tools that brought me back to the wrestling industry and my "roots', so to speak.

With that said, I have to humbly disagree with your opinion of Brock Lesnar.

I watched the fight on that Saturday.  Brock looked... well, to put it loosely, "fat".  Out of shape.  Him jogging around the octagon made **me** tired.  Brock got that "one punch" in a sport where a win is just "one punch away".  I would love to see a rematch between The Legend and Mr. Lesnar.

I'm not bitter about the way he treated WWE fans on his departure from the company.  I'm not.  But... ask yourself this question: after two victories, did he deserve a title shot?  That's what I'm more bitter about.

Great writing, Mr. Ross.  Promise your public that you'll never stop.

A "Silver Bullet" is raised in your honour.  Health to you and your family.

eric

I think you are right JR; Brock is *not* getting the respect he deserves; and according to my calculations Brock won't be largely respected until he continues to "own" the other mma fighters. At least he will be popular as you've mentioned. But not because of his skills; but because people are waiitng for him to be defeated.

I've been a fan of wrestling all of my life, and have been watching MMA and UFC since 1993, UFC 1.

The problem with MMA fans is that they have the mentality that WWE hurts the image of the UFC; I think this is overly foolish of them; WWE in itself is its own entity and seperate form of entertainment. And contrary to the MMA-Enthusiasts popular belief... They are excellent athletes! The mma fans have the mentality "Hey... you guys aren't REAL fighters like WE are!" It's a very immature mentality! But not all fans are like this.

The reason I started to watch MMA was because I wanted one thing; excitement. Nobody in the last 5 years has been as exciting to watch, as Brock. That, in addition to his willingness to imrpove and contribute to the sport has made me one of his greatest fans. I was actually routing for Brock to beat Couture, and picked him as a favorite.

And if Brock keeps training.. Nobody will beat him for a long long time. To quote the warror... "You're gonna get sick of it.... cause this freak of nature is just starting to swell"

Thanks for writing JR; don't listen to the haters I think your mma blogs are very nice. :) Keep routing for brock!

Until then

-MichaelD Boston MA

If Brock was disrepectful it was rightfully so.

He was disrespected before the Mir fight, the Herring fight, and the Couture fight.

Perhaps the "purists" should practice what they preach.

Also, why didn't anyone think the weight disparity was an issue before the fight? Practically everyone was picking Couture to win.

Why no mention of weight disparity between Couture and Silvia...or Gonzaga?

Sour grapes perhaps?

As far as being in that sport of 'RASSLIN, as it is referred to as, Mr. Lesnar is but one of many others to have stepped into the ring, either prior to or after his MMA career, to include Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn, and neither of those guys get dumped on for being in RASSLIN', nor is Tito Ortiz or Tank Abbott, both of whom were also involved in this sport as well as MMA.

With regard to Brock "jumping ahead" of other contenders, booking an MMA PPV event is not that far off from booking a WWE event.  Simply put, the UFC is going to put the two fighters together in the Octagon whom will make the most ticket sales.  Period.  In this case, it was Brock and Randy.

Finally, with regard to personality, that is real close to the second point, in which that in able to market the fights, these fighters do some trash talking and such to help generate hype for the fights.  Nearly every single UFC fight has ended in a handshake or a hug at the end of the fight, to include guys like Ortiz and Shamrock, who reportedly despised each other on a personal level.  Again, just like WWE, they're selling personality every bit as much as the fights themselves, and that is the same marketing that the boxing world uses.

Perhaps some MMA fans whom are not fans of pro wrestling (or whatever we are supposed to call it today) have a bit of "sour grapes" that the two sports' approach to marketing don't differ as much as they would like?

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It's ironic since MMA hardcore fans worship Kazushi Sakuraba (my fav MMA fighter by the way).

Sakuraba is a former pro wrestler and shootwrestler from Japan as well as UFC Japan 1997 tournament winner and of course being the man who singlehandly destoryed the once proud legacy of the unbeatable Gracie Family and Gracie Jujitsu (original BJJ) by beat 4 of its members at the now defunct PRIDE including UFC's first ace star Royce Gracie and was therefore titled "The Gracie Hunter".

Saku (as nicknamed by fans), has stated of how proud he is of pro wrestling background, heck after winning UFC Japan tournament in 1997, he stated "In fact, Pro Wrestling is strong". He even used pro wrestling inspired moves in his bouts such as  Mongolian Chops on the ground.

And yet, he is worshiped by harcore MMA fans.

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