VALLEJOS’ TAKE: Brock Lesnar, the UFC’s elusive but oddly consistent draw

Robert Vallejos, MMATORCH Contributor

Brock Lesnar (artist Grant Gould © MMATorch)

In the past 10 years, Brock Lesnar has fought for the UFC 8 times, yet in a strange way he remains their most consistent star.

As soon as Lesnar was shown at UFC 226 right before the heavyweight supperfight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, it was clear that the former champion (and current WWE Universal Champion) was in-line for title shot in the near future. After confronting newly crowned heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, it became a certainty that the UFC had their secret golden goose back.

What makes Lesnar such a valuable asset to UFC is not his uncompromising commitment to the organization, but his ability to treat MMA as his passion project.

Lesnar is the rare athlete that has not only been afforded the opportunity to participate in another sport, but he has at times excelled at his complimentary endeavor. Lesnar’s past resume as a former UFC champion has allowed Lesnar the privilege of reentering the UFC fold wherever his schedule and anti-doping agencies allow.

Often lost in the debate of the morality and anti-meritocratic nature of Lesnar’s UFC inclusion, is the commonly held belief that Lesnar is much more comfortable in MMA than in the world of professional wrestling.

It is difficult to get a solid read the happiness of Brock Lesnar, but it is simple to surmise that Lesnar is great pro wrestler who would rather be a great mixed martial artist.

It is this apparent enjoyment of MMA that makes Lesnar an infrequent but consistent draw for Dana White and the UFC.

Among the Mount Rushmore of major UFC draws over the past decade, Lesnar is regarded as having a comparatively flimsy resume. However, the UFC will likely have a more lucrative relationship with Lesnar than any other of these supernovas.

Conor McGregor might be the biggest pay-per-view draw that the UFC has ever seen, but he has taken what he needs from the UFC and has no real need to ever return to MMA. McGregor used his platform as a UFC mega-star to promote a bizarre-yet-watchable boxing fight with Floyd Mayweather.

Aside from his tangling with Mayweather, McGregor has only surfaced in the past two years when committing felonies in Brooklyn.

McGregor may fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in late 2018, but after that fight what is left for McGregor in MMA?

Wisely, McGregor has leveraged his UFC career to enjoy a life a luxury. In many ways Lesnar has done the same in his dual careers. The major difference, is that UFC fights are a byproduct of Lesnar’s professional success.

Perhaps, McGregor is an unfair comparison. After all. It does not seem that McGregor has a real desire or ability to be a consistent star in multiple mediums, but is it unfair to contrast Lesnar’s current situation with that of his female counterpart Ronda Rousey?

In many ways, Rousey in the inverse-Lesnar. She found success in a martial arts discipline, became a savant in front of a global audience, became disenfranchised with her current career, and used her fame to step into a related field where she has shown to be far from perfect but leaps ahead of the average rookie.

While it is impossible to predict if Rousey will ever come back to the UFC, it is fairly obvious that her investment in the UFC is predicated on her ability to be fighter with an unblemished record.

Undoubtedly, a Rousey return to the UFC would be a box office hit, but another Rousey loss would certainly close the door on anymore fights for the MMA pioneer.

Although Lesnar has the desire to win that anyone who has been a top-tier competitive athlete for multiple decades, his worth does not correlate with his win-loss record. Lesnar earned a title shot with a 2-1 record, he possesses an unbelievable aura with an average 5-3-1 record. This does not mean that Lesnar is a demonstrably inferior fighter, is just illustrates the notion that unlike Rousey, Lesnar’s persona is not related to his record.

It is much more difficult to make a connection between Georges St-Pierre and Lesnar, than it is to compare Lesnar to McGregor and Rousey.

St-Pierre is the antithesis of Lesnar.

GSP put up years of championship-level MMA while conducting himself as a gentleman in the process. Eventually GSP cashed in his stardom in a middleweight title fight at UFC 217.

However, after GSP’s sabbatical in 2013, it has been increasingly difficult to get him in the cage.

Some of the reasons for his dormancy are due to his demands, and others are predictably altruistic. In 2018 GSP needs the conditions to absolutely perfect in order to fight.

Sure, Lesnar is hardly fighting for peanuts, and his future tenure will come with a myriad a special treatment, but Lesnar is unfettered by anything outside of his orbit. Issues of principle are never mentioned in Lesnar’s world. After all, Lesnar is currently contracted to a pro wrestling company that he was involved in contentious litigation with a decade ago.

The right circumstance for GSP looks vastly different than an ideal situation for Brock Lesnar.

None of this is to say that Lesnar is some MMA fanboy who is simply gracious to be given an opportunity, nothing can be further from the truth. But it should not be forgotten that part of what makes Lesnar special is that he does not need MMA, therefore he runs little risk of ever completely divorcing the sport.

Lesnar is not the workhorse that his fellow mega-draws were, he is more of a valuable resource that is sparsely used used for maximum impact.

As synthetic as it may feel at times, Lesnar is one of the few sure things that the UFC can rely on for the foreseeable future.


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