At “Pride of a Champion,” newly inducted Hall of Famer Mark Coleman announced that he would be returning to the Octagon to fight Brock Lesnar. The match is slated to go down August 9th in Lesnar’s adopted hometown of Minneapolis; it will be Coleman’s first fight since losing to Fedor Emelianenko in October 2006 at PRIDE 32, and his first UFC appearance since 1999.
This is kind of like the UFC’s version of Kimbo Slice vs. Tank Abbott — the much-hyped new crossover star against the faded veteran. The major difference is that Tank, even in his prime, wasn’t worthy of hand-washing Mark Coleman’s jock. And unfortunately for Brock Lesnar, his strengths are basically canceled out in this matchup. Brock was a dominant amateur wrestler? So was Coleman. Brock’s got scary ground-and-pound? Mark Coleman invented that shit. Lesnar’s only advantages are youth and athleticism. Does that trump Coleman’s 12 years of ring experience, during which he threw down with legends like Dan Severn, Don Frye, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko Cro Cop, and Fedor?
In retrospect, putting Brock Lesnar up against Frank Mir in Lesnar’s first UFC fight was a bad, bad idea, and this could be just as bad, if not worse. Coleman lacks Mir’s submission mastery, but he’ll test Brock’s chin with his heavy hands, and he won’t go to the ground as easily as Mir did.
We’ve given EliteXC a lot of grief for protecting Kimbo Slice with cut-rate competition, but at least they understand how to build up a franchise star — one can at a time. I’m starting to wonder if building Brock Lesnar as an MMA star was even the UFC’s intention to begin with. Was Dana White’s secondary motivation behind signing him (after the huge PPV buys) to prove that pro wrestlers would get stomped by skilled MMA fighters? I’m not saying I would have particularly enjoyed seeing Lesnar face Justin McCully, but what happens after he goes 0-2?