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Mirko Cro Cop: Brock Lesnar Winning the UFC Title Is a Defeat for MMA


It's been fascinating to see the reaction to Brock Lesnar becoming the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion by defeating Frank Mir at UFC 100: The response is just about evenly split between those who think Lesnar's larger-than-life persona is great for the sport, and those who think he has tarnished MMA.

Count Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic as part of the latter camp.

Cro Cop, the former Pride star who recently agreed to return to the UFC and fight Junior dos Santos at UFC 103, said in an interview with Index.hr (a web site in his native Croatia) that he thinks Lesnar's victory is a bad thing for mixed martial arts. Here's how Fighters Only translates Cro Cop's comments:
"I must point out that his victory is a defeat for the sport as such. Don't get me wrong, Lesnar is a fearsome and very dangerous opponent, but I am old school, I prefer skill and technique. This win was a defeat of martial skills. Much of what he achieved in the fight is a result of pure power... Of course, Lesnar has quality sparring partners, is an experienced wrestler and a man who learns very quickly. But he is yet to have a real struggle. He does not have many fights in his career and I would love to see how he would react to two or three good low kicks."
I agree with Cro Cop in one respect: I would love to see how Lesnar would react totwo or three good low kicks. I question, though, whether Cro Cop is the guy to deliver those low kicks.

Steve Barry at MMA Convert writes that Cro Cop might be the kind of striker who could take Lesnar down, but I just don't see it. Cro Cop is one of the smallest heavyweights in MMA and Lesnar is one of the biggest, and I have a hard time picturing a scenario other than Lesnar getting Cro Cop to the ground and squashing him.

And I also disagree with Cro Cop's notion that Lesnar becoming a champion is somehow bad for martial arts. Most people don't think of wrestling as a martial art, but it absolutely is -- and it's one of the best, most effective martial arts. As a wrestler Lesnar was NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion, and now that he's a mixed martial artist he's the UFC heavyweight champion. That's not bad for martial arts, unless you're under the mistaken impression that martial arts are nothing more than punching and kicking.