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Brock Lesnar and the road to Randy Couture

Quite frankly, it had gotten to the point where it didn't seem as if there was any chance Randy "The Natural" Couture would ever fight in the UFC again. After all, he wanted a match with Fedor Emelianenko? who currently fights for Affliction? and had said some rather unsettling things about the UFC upon initiating his recent hiatus from the fight game. But then came the announcement that we were all waiting for?Randy Couture would be fighting again.

But it wouldn't be against the guy we all thought it would be against. Forget Fedor for now; apparently those recent rumblings were true. That's right, we're talking about Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture at UFC 91 on November 15th.

"We aired out a lot of our differences, resolved a lot of things," said Randy Couture on ESPN's SportsCenter regarding his problems with the UFC.

Of course, Couture is one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, even if he is 45 years old right now. Thus, taking him on in only the fourth fight of one's MMA career would seem crazy for many. But former WWE superstar Brock Lesnar isn't one of the many; he's a rarity.

"When you're approached with an opportunity to fight a guy like Randy Couture for the heavyweight title, who would actually turn down that opportunity?" said Lesnar when asked about the bout. Further, he noted that he "was excited," upon hearing of the match up. "It's an opportunity that I didn't expect to happen this soon."

So let's break Lesnar's MMA career down for you. We're talking about a submission victory (strikes) over Min Soo Kim in the first round, a first round submission loss to Frank Mir, and a dominant decision victory over Heath Herring.

All told, Lesnar's MMA career began only a little over a year ago on June 7, 2007.

Still, Lesnar is no stranger to athletic competition. At Webster High School in Webster, South Dakota he managed a 33-0 wrestling record during his senior year. During his only two seasons wrestling for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Lesnar managed to win the 2000 NCAA heavyweight wrestling championship while placing second during the 1999 season. All told at Bismarck Junior College and Minnesota combined, he was a two-time NJCAA All American, a two-time NCAA All American, and a two-time Big Ten Champion.

Now that's impressive. In fact, it's on a par, if not more impressive, than Couture's collegiate wrestling career; one where he managed two Division I runner up performances and three All American placements.

Thus, fighting someone with Lesnar's wrestling resume will be a first for Couture. Lesnar is a much bigger, stronger, and younger man with a similar wrestling pedigree.

In addition, though Lesnar's MMA career has been short, it has not been unimpressive. No, Min Soo Kim was not necessarily a stellar opponent. But Lesnar did what a favorite should do to an underdog; he dominated him. Though he lost the Frank Mir in his next bout, Lesnar looked every bit as impressive from a power and wrestling angle during the fight as had been hypothesized, and even showed some stand up power on his feet.

Against Herring, another legitimate heavyweight MMA fighter, Lesnar once again showed his power on his feet?he dropped The Texas Crazy Horse?and was easily able to assert his wrestling pedigree en-route to a dominant victory.

In the end, Lesnar has clearly been put on the fast track to a title shot here that many believe he doesn't deserve yet. In one sense they're right; Lesnar just hasn't fought enough in MMA yet. Still, not deserving a title shot because you haven't fought enough in MMA and being unable to win a title are two different things. Make no mistake? Randy Couture knows that Lesnar will be a challenge. So do Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the two guys fighting on the opposite end of this four man playoff for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

Said another way, how many WWE superstars have made the transition to real fighting? How many guys do you know in MMA that are as big and strong as Lesnar? How many fighters have started their career by taking on a former UFC Heavyweight Champion (Mir) and legitimate heavyweight fighter (Herring) within their first three bouts?

In other words, the fact that Lesnar is getting a title shot so early shouldn't be surprising. He's been different from the start.

And he has the potential to be scary good.