By Jason Moles
After the most difficult two-and-a half minutes of his professional MMA career, it was all over for Brock Lesnar. Not just the savage abuse he was taking from Strikeforce/K-1 champion Alistair Overeem, not just his attempted comeback in the sport he took by storm, but his time in MMA altogether. ”I’ve had a really difficult couple of years with my disease, and I’m going to officially say tonight was the last time you’ll see me in the Octagon,” Lesnar said during his post-fight retirement speech at UFC 141.
It’s only fitting that Lesnar’s run in the UFC end as quickly and unexpectedly as it began. The former NCAA Division I wrestling champion was never really ours when you think about it — MMA merely borrowed Lesnar, and we should consider ourselves fortunate that he briefly lent his personality and ferocious physicality to our sport. As he said his final good-byes to the Las Vegas crowd, the beardless viking looked relieved to see the Octagon in his rear-view mirror.
Shortly after waiving off the fight, Mario Yamasaki raised the arm of the new #1 contender, Alistair Overeem. The former PRIDE fighter had everything going for him. He dodged a fatal bullet from the NSAC, was making bank in the UFC, and had just defeated a man most people considered a Top 5 contender in the heavyweight division – finally proving to the world that he can indeed hang with the best. On top of all that, he had just been announced as the next challenger for Junior Dos Santos’ championship title. The only way it could have been better is if the mayor had given him a key to the city and held a parade in his honor. If Overeem only knew the fate that would befall him over the course of the next three months, his smile might not have been as big that December night inside the MGM Grand.
For the majority of 2012’s first quarter, you didn’t hear much from the former UFC heavyweight champion. It was as if he’d fallen off the face of the Earth the moment he walked past the curtains. That was, of course, until his music hit the speakers and he walked toward the ring on WWE Raw last Monday. You read that right: The UFC president himself, Dana White, gave his blessing for “The Next Big Thing” to return to his pro-wrestling roots and that’s exactly what he did. Without saying a word, he stepped inside the squared circle to a hero’s welcome, tricked John Cena with a handshake, and applied his F-5 finishing move. Seconds later, he walked away. It was the first of a rumored 30-35 appearances over the next twelve months that Brock will be required to make, as per the $5 million deal he reportedly struck with Vince McMahon. That sound you hear is a retired mixed martial artist who is laughing his way to the bank. (Where was pantomime-fighting at my career fair?)
As we traded snow shovels and rock salt for sunglasses and BBQ’s, Alistair Overeem’s problems grew as fast as Jack’s mythical beanstalk. Just a few days after winning at UFC 141, the Demolition Man was accused of and charged with shoving a woman in the face at a popular hotel in Vegas — a misdemeanor that threatened jail time. Overeem let his lawyer handle the dirty work at his trial in late March, and instead made the fateful decision to attend a UFC 146 press conference to hype his upcoming title fight against JDS.
Unbeknownst to the heavyweights at the media event, the NSAC planned to administer surprise drug tests after the presser, which ultimately revealed that Alistair Overeem was packing an insanely high testosterone/epitestosterone ratio — 14:1 for those of you who like to keep score. And so, the man who once seemed like the rightful heir to the UFC’s heavyweight crown is likely to be suspended, pushed out of a title fight and potentially out of a job, and will be spending a chunk of his summer picking up cans on the side of the highway and discussing his feelings in a circle with other convicted rageaholics. Yes, indeed, the mighty have fallen.
Suddenly, you get mixed emotions thinking back on the main event from New Year’s Eve weekend, 2011. You don’t feel so bad for Brock. Sure, his career was cut short at the hands of a life-threatening illness, but the behemoth is alive and well…and filthy stinking rich. Alistair on the other hand — well let’s just say it’s hard to cheer a liar and a cheat that isn’t named Chael Sonnen.