As isolated as Brock Lesnar
is in his Minnesota training camp, and as successfully as he manages to avoid the internet most of the time, some criticisms still find their way out of the petri dish of MMA and into the former UFC champ's world. But as he told me when I spoke to him for a Sports Illustrated story this week
, the key is not so much in avoiding those criticisms entirely, but rather in knowing what to make of them once they get there.
For instance, take the oft-repeated claim that Lesnar can't take a punch.
"I think it's a bunch of bulls---," Lesnar said. "The fights that I've gotten hit, I've stood and banged with Heath Herring
, Randy Couture
, Frank Mir
-- I've taken a lot of shots. I mean, Shane Carwin
. And I've yet to be knocked out. I had refs stop a fight for a submission and a TKO, which is a referee stoppage. I've never been knocked out cold."
In fact, the 'it's a bunch of bulls---' response turns out to be Lesnar's go-to move when confronted with MMA fans and media criticisms. It's not that he doesn't hear them -- trust me, if you were around for the reception he got at the UFC on FOX event in Anaheim, you'd know there's no way around it sometimes -- it's that he dismisses it as just another instance of haters hating. Not in those words, of course.
"Any time you're on top, whatever it is, and I don't care if it's the business world or it's in farming or fighting -- and those are all things that I'm in -- there's people out to get you," he said. "There's criticism. I don't know if it's just that people don't like to see other people succeed, or just if they want to see them fail."
Which is, according to Lesnar, exactly what's happening with Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow right now.
"There's a stand-up guy who's doing a lot of good things, a stand-up role model for kids, and this guy is taking a lot of criticism," Lesnar said. "I guess it comes with the territory. When you're in the spotlight and you're one of the best people in your division, you better have some heavy armor."
People can say his chin was exposed in the Cain Velasquez
fight, Lesnar said, but as he pointed out, "in the heavyweight division, if guys are putting leather in the right spots, it's hard to come back from that."
As for Alistair Overeem
, who has vowed to take Lesnar apart "piece by piece" at UFC 141
, there's no ill will there, according to the former WWE star.
"I don't hardly even know him," said Lesnar. "...He's an opponent. He's a guy I'm facing next Friday night, who I will have no remorse for, and who I will show no mercy to. I don't have any emotions when I fight, for myself or anyone else."