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Now... Or later for Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar can be successful in the sport, I think. I don't know if he's going to be successful right away, but he's definitely got what it takes to be successful," former UFC Champion Tim Sylvia said in reference to the former WWE star's chances in MMA at a recent UFC 81: Breaking Point press conference. In saying that, Sylvia certainly echoed the feelings of many. Lesnar has the base that you need to be successful in MMA (a wrestling base). But is he being thrown to the wolves with a match at UFC 81 against Frank Mir?

First, let's break things down by saying that Lesnar's chances have little to do with his past pro wrestling career, and even he seems to echo that sentiment.

"You get the question, well, are we going to see the other pro wrestlers trying to make a leap? Well, I don't think so because none of them, you know, there isn't another guy other than Kurt Angle? who's past his prime right now? [that] can really make this leap. I truly believe that."

Said another way, Tim Sylvia and the rest of the world believe that Lesnar can eventually make a splash in MMA because of his past in amateur wrestling (translation: real wrestling).

We're talking about a two-time NCAA All-American, NCAA All-American, and Big Ten Champion wrestler here. That's two times each, mind you. And on top of that Lesnar was the 2000 NCAA Heavyweight Champion, posted a 106-5 collegiate wrestling record, and went undefeated as a senior in high school.

Still, most guys with a wrestling background?even an elite one?take on a few tomato cans, then work their way up to decent fighters, then good fighters, and finally the elite. Lesnar is jumping right in with a former UFC champion that finally is beginning to look like he's back to form after a terrible motorcycle accident that destroyed his leg.

So here's the question: Will Lesnar's potential immediately come to fruition, or will we have to all wait?

The answer? Hard to say.

Brock Lesnar was an amateur wrestling sensation. He's brutally strong and enormous. But did he lose a step in terms of real wrestling skills while he was in the WWE? Again, hard to say. He's also been training for this MMA moment for about two years now. Certainly that helps, but is all that practice enough to see a true mixed martial artist come out once he's in the cage? Frank Mir doesn't seem to think so, according to a Fight! Magazine article:

"No matter what, you can practice something a thousand times; it's the real thing that's going to test you." Further, Mir notes that, "he has eighteen years of wrestling. I don't care how comfortable he feels, everybody reverts back to what they do best, especially when you get a little bit tired, your heart rate elevates, you get hit, you feel endangered, you revert back to what you feel most comfortable with."

Thus, you've got to wonder if Lesnar's MMA training is ready for a real fight. Will he act like a fighter, not a wrestler, once he gets in there for real?

Of course, we've done a lot of talking here about Lesnar, because it's his debut. But when it comes to the success of that debut?whether the MMA success will come now or later for him?his opponent, Frank Mir, will of course have something to do with it all.

The questions on Frank Mir regarding this fight are oftentimes closely related to his rehabilitation, both mentally and physically. In fact, they're the same questions we've all had about him for some time now.

On one hand, Mir indicates that he's been back for a while in the physical sense and looked like it in his last fight, a first round submission victory over Antoni Hardonk. But it was the mental aspect of the injury?letting go and not worrying about the injury, amongst other things?that may have gotten in the way against Brandon Vera and is perhaps just as important to realizing his potential as a fighter.

"I think the mental aspect of being a hundred percent gets put on the backburner because obviously, you can't see that until you compete, until you get past the physical portion," says Mir.

So let's just say that Frank Mir is completely back in every way to where he was before the accident, which of course is a tall order. Does Brock Lesnar stand a chance?

Everyone has a chance when it comes to a fight. If Lesnar is as dedicated as everyone is saying he is; if he is as intense as so many have indicated, then it's only a matter of time before he starts making significant headway.

But if Mir is back to form, betting men would say that we're all going to have to wait for Lesnar's potential to be realized unless he really is that good. Unless he's a natural.

Looking forward to finding out at UFC 81: Breaking Point.

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