Brock Lesnar isn’t coming back to the world of literal fighting. Bummer. It’s going to be hard to move on from the Sworded Thorax. For whatever reason, the idea of Lesnar returning to the UFC felt like planning a summer trip to some southern climate. It wasn’t like the first time when he arrived as a kind of Renaissance man fresh from the unqualified ranks of pro wrestling and a (brief) stint in professional football. This time it was the former heavyweight champion with something to resolve after a bout of diverticulitis (which sapped his energy) and a rough run-in with Cain Velasquez (which sapped everything else).
But alas, Lesnar’s staying with the choreographed world of the WWE. He announced on ESPN that he’s closing the door for good on MMA. The preconceived punches are better than the ones that are meant to do harm. Those millions are better than these. So long, Brock. At least the decision looked difficult.
Though honestly, it’s probably the right decision for a guy who will be 38 in July, and who really doesn’t have to take the more complicated route. As Lesnar said while turning three good shades of red on SportsCenter, he’s got a cushy part-time gig making all the loot he needs. The heel in him couldn’t help but rub that fact in everybody’s face. He can live up in Saskatchewan and keep the spotlights under his control, and not give away parts of his IQ to guys like Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir. His decision was really pretty simple, when you think about it.
Then again, it was still a bit of a bummer. Not because it was unexpected, but because it closed down some part of the imagination. Lesnar always carried the Big Feel with him to the cage, and he still did. Lesnar versus Mir III would have done real business. So would Lesnar versus Overeem II or Lesnar versus Fedor I. The idea of him fighting Derrick Lewis is straight out of the mind of Frank Frazetta. Lesnar against anybody, really, would have kicked back up the boom times, because Lesnar in an actual non-scripted fight never gets old.
For fans, media and the promotion, at least. The UFC sure hates to see him go. After all, Dana White still owes everyone a leap off the top of the Mandalay Bay, which he double-dog swore he would do if UFC 100 did over 1.5 million buys. Guess what? It did. All because of Lesnar, who "removed the horseshoe" from Frank Mir’s hindquarters that night in 2009, and afterwards frothed like a rabid dog with plenty of libido and a taste for Coors Light.
No, Lesnar’s already proven all that he needs to in this sport. He did pretty damn well for a guy who so many people wanted -- and expected -- to fail. His collegiate wrestling from his days at the University of Minnesota was still very much in his scaffolding, which was a pleasant surprise, and his work with Marty Morgan carried him further than most people thought possible. How far? To this day Lesnar shares the mark for most consecutive heavyweight title defenses in the UFC (two). Did he like to get hit? No. He didn’t. And in a land of thumpers, that’s a red flag.
As Sports Illustrated’s Jeff Wagenheim once said, Lesnar was the bull in the China shop, just breaking a bunch of sh*t and crashing through bodies. Who can forget what he did to poor Heath Herring out there in Minnesota? Or Randy Couture? Or the time at UFC 116 when he was literally getting pummeled himself by Shane Carwin, only to come back and submit him in the second round? That fight will go down as his opus. It was a hell of a beating he took just to turn the fight world on its ear. A hell of a beating.
You can’t script that kind of thing. And you see, that’s just it.
Farewell, Brock Lesnar. For real this time. It’s been fun.