Sunday, January 1, 2012

Right or wrong, Brock did it his way

The New Year isn't even a day old and yet the biggest news for mixed martial arts in 2012 belongs to a personality no longer affiliated with the sport. Although Brock Lesnar lost his fight Friday night in spectacular and quick fashion, he still ended up being the biggest star of the night, both literally and figuratively; that's because upon his defeat, Lesnar dropped the bombshell that he is retiring from the sport of MMA. However, was it really that surprising?

Lesnar (5-3, 2 KO's 2 subs) is only 34 years old, which puts him in his physical prime for this sport, and has only been a part of it for four and a half years, but his heart just isn't in it. He tried hard to be a fighter and for his brief stint, due to his natural physical gifts, found success; but a fighter's heart has to be just as natural and Lesnar just doesn't have it.

During his career, I've often said that Lesnar was a bully in disguise and what I meant was he took advantage of those he could because of his size and skill. However, whenever he met someone that wasn't imposed by him, he folded under the pressure. Bullies in my mind are always fearful deep down inside and when it came to fighting I felt Brock was no different.

Yet, he has to be given respect and acknowledged even if this is true. That's because on eight different occasions he put in the work and found the heart to step into the cage and face his opponents; not everyone can do that. Not to mention how he handled the pressure that was put on him, sometimes brought upon by his own actions. He came into this sport a known commodity from his days as a professional and amateur wrestler; a lot was expected of him and win or lose he delivered.

In his short time he became the biggest pay-per-view draw for the UFC and in only his fourth pro fight, he won the UFC heavyweight title. There are many skilled fighters with heart bigger than a beach ball that never attain, let alone get even close, to those heights. Beyond that, outside of the cage he showed more courage than he ever did inside of it.

In the last two years, in the middle of his prime and during his reign at the top, he was stricken with a life threatening illness in diverticulitis. This disease is one that affects the intestinal tract and most times, as in Lesnar's case, can only be treated through sensitive surgery. The first time he was diagnosed, there was doubt he would ever fight again. He could have easily walked away and had a legitimate reason why, yet he didn't. He came back and fought and he did it twice.

Sure he found temporary success and then lost his last two fights, but in my eyes and in the eyes of many, Brock won. That's because while he may never have displayed the heart of a fighter, he definitely displayed the heart of a champion. For a guy I truly believe doesn't have it in him to be in the spotlight, he's overcome all challenges and won at every level he's competed at.

He rose to win a NCAA championship as an amateur wrestler and then won championships in both pro wrestling and MMA in the two biggest organizations in the world. On top of that, for all the bravado and ego he came into this sport with, on Friday night after he lost he went out humbly and professionally. Even in defeat, Brock stole the show and for that, he should be applauded. Right or wrong, Brock did it his way.

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