(Valhalla was not quite what Lesnar had been expecting. There were fewer sexy valkyries and more big Mexicans angry about that shit he said. PicProps: UFC.com)
So, Cain Velasquez came as advertised at UFC 121. Brock Lesnar? Not quite so much. When Lesnar’s early Caveman Smash offense failed and he couldn’t keep Velasquez on the mat with his vaunted wrestling prowess, shit got ugly in a hurry. Of all the things the newly minted UFC heavyweight champion did well on Saturday night – face-punching being the most obvious – the most important and impressive may have been his ability to scramble back to his feet. As it turns out (and as some of you already suspected) the only thing Velasquez had to do to win this fight was keep it vertical, size and strength be damned.
Clearly, Lesnar’s standup game is still a disaster of the approximate size and scope of the Hindenburg and the cracks that emerged in his repertoire during his previous fight with Shane Carwin busted wide open against Velasquez. He lashed out with some knees and good straight punches early, but they didn’t seem to faze the undefeated AKA product. As soon as Cain marshaled the troops and went on the offensive it was clear Lesnar had no plan B. And lo, there was much rejoicing and celebration. The Dark Lord hath fallen.
The most pressing question now may be what unforeseen calamity will befall Velasquez? Motorcycle wreck? Lengthy contract dispute? Hole in his colon? The only thing we’ve been able to conclusively prove about the UFC heavyweight title over the years is that winning it is typically not good for your health. As for Lesnar? Well, it’s funny how you can go from ruling the roost to looking like a chump in just under five minutes. Now even The Undertaker wants a piece. That video is after the jump.
Though it may be physically impossible to knock Lesnar out cold – the area that would traditionally house his neck is surrounded by a mountain of muscle that may not yet have a scientific name – in a practical sense, his chin may not be the greatest, either. In fact, the more we see of him in the cage, the more he looks like the classic bully. Lesnar loves to be on top of people (No, we don’t mean his wife. This time.) terrorizing them with his bulk, but he does not like to get punched. Not at all.
Watching it in real time, it was easy to miss the clipping left hook that sent Lesnar stumbling across the Octagon like an afternoon drunk midway through the first. Maybe it’s just his cartoonish physique, but there is something uniquely hilarious about watching Lesnar get put on queer street. For a while there it looked like he might spin out and survive, just like he did at UFC 116, but not even Carwin put a beating on Lesnar like Velasquez did last night. With a smiling cut gashed open underneath his eye and no real intelligent defense for the onslaught, Herb Dean had no choice but to wave the fight off with about 30 seconds left before the bell.
In a weird way, the real interesting part of Lesnar’s career begins right now. Brock has never been the kind of guy who could sit still in one job for longer than a few years, so seeing how he reacts to no longer being “the toughest SOB around” will be pretty telling. His general demeanor suggests a man who has never had to overcome much adversity, athletically speaking anyway, and at 33 years old his window for improving may not be as wide open as we once thought. Guys of his size typically don’t age well, even if they do look like the bouncer at the scariest Viking bar in town.
You can bet that over the next few days we media types will dissect everything Lesnar’s done to this point since taking up MMA fulltime, particularly his decision to shun other top training camps in favor of staying home in Alexandria with his exclusive team and his handpicked coaches. There’s a certain arrogance in that, obviously. You have to admire how far he’s been able to come in such a short time, but you also have to kind of wonder: Wouldn’t he be better off at Jackson’s place? Or American Top Team? Or even with Cesar Gracie, who will clearly train absolutely anyone.
It also remains to be seen if what happened on Saturday night represents a significant promotional setback for the UFC. Losing its biggest draw as heavyweight champion clearly hurts, but the company also made a pretty boldfaced effort to market Velasquez to the Hispanic community leading up to this bout, in the process effectively (and kind of weirdly) defining UFC 121′s main event on the basis of ethnicity. If Velasquez can appeal to that historically fight-friendly demographic in the way the UFC hopes he can, he’ll be no slouch when it comes to drawing power himself.