Brock Lesnar is back, and he’s doing it to prove to himself he can be the best heavyweight in the world now that he’s healthy.
The former UFC champion retired from the sport after losing to Alistair Overeem in 2011, but it had a lot to do with the health condition he battled for years. With his diverticulitis issues in the past, Lesnar returns to the Octagon on July 9, facing Mark Hunt at UFC 200, and his jiu-jitsu coach Rodrigo "Comprido" Medeiros is excited to see him train normally again.
"He’s doing great physically and mentally," "Comprido" told MMA Fighting. "That’s something he wanted to do. It was his choice. The UFC didn’t go after him, he went after the UFC. He wants to prove to himself that he can do interesting things in MMA now that he’s healthy. Win fights, win titles. He has that inside of him. He couldn’t perform at his best for years due to his disease. He had surgery and didn’t wait enough to fight again. He’s training well now. I’m excited and confident."
Medeiros was also part of Lesnar’s camps when he was UFC champion, and recalls the rough patch the heavyweight went through in 2010 and 2011.
"It was weird because we had no idea what was going on," "Comprido" said. "He had that for years. At first, since he was a strong guy and had a healthy lifestyle, he was able to hide the symptoms. But when he was going to fight Junior (dos Santos), we found out. It was a horrible camp. He trained two days, and couldn’t do anything else the next two days. He went to the doctors and they couldn’t find out what was going on.
"When he finally found out, it was a bizarre situation," he continued. "He was rushed to the hospital thinking he was going to die. He needed to undergo surgery, but he’s like a horse, and doctors were impressed that he recovered so quickly so they ended up postponing the surgery. It was a painful process. He had to remove 12 inches of his colon, but he postponed it as long as he could because he didn’t know how his life would be after that. He eventually did it, and he has a normal life now. He has a better diet, but it was tough."
Almost five years after his last MMA bout, Lesnar faces a dangerous fight in Mark Hunt, and that’s exactly what he wanted. In the past few years, Hunt finished the likes of Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Antonio Silva and Stefan Struve, and Lesnar’s team is aware of the dangers he presents.
"If you look at his career, Brock always fought tough opponents," the jiu-jitsu coach said. "His first fight in the UFC was against Frank Mir, and then he fought ‘Crazy Horse’ (Heath Herring). From all of his opponents, in my opinion, ‘Crazy Horse’ had the lowest level, but still had an excellent level. (Lesnar) never fought a can, never had a tune-up fight. He fought Overeem six months after cutting 12 inches of his colon. He only fought great opponents, champions, and had what it takes to beat every single one of them.
"Is Mark Hunt a tough fight? Yes, he is. I don’t even need to say. If one hand lands… But it wouldn’t make sense if it wasn’t a fight like this. It’s a wrestler against a striker, and that’s nice. It’s a fight that makes sense. That’s what he wants. He wants to test himself against a high level opponent. He doesn’t want to fight a nobody. He wants someone that adds something to his career, otherwise he wouldn’t train as hard and as motivated as he’s training. Mark Hunt is a dangerous fight, and we know that, but I’m 100 percent confident."
The best strategy to win at UFC 200 is to use his wrestling and jiu-jitsu, Medeiros says, but they are confident that Lesnar can also knock Hunt out.
"I see him winning on the ground, by submission, but anything can happen," "Comprido said". "Mark Hunt is one of the best strikers in the UFC, but Brock has heavy hands, too. A grappler like Brock, if one hand lands clean, he can knock you out, or Mark Hunt can get a good position on the ground and submit him. Logic says that Mark Hunt has the advantage standing, and Brock’s advantage is on the ground, but we’ve seen many times that anything can happen. We saw what happened at Fedor’s fight against Fabio Maldonado. You’re the favorite until the cage is closed.
"Our goal is to fight well, stay focused, and beat Mark Hunt," he added. "Don’t let anything distract you. Mark Hunt is not an easy task, it’s something we can’t overlook. Our goal is to beat Mark Hunt, put on a great performance at UFC 200. What happens next, we’ll know when it’s over. Until July 9, the only thing in our minds is find a way to beat Mark Hunt."
"Comprido" recently promoted Lesnar, former Bellator heavyweight champion Cole Konrad and NCAA champion Marty Morgan to blue belt in jiu-jitsu, and he explained his decision.
"(Lesnar) had a constant evolution on the ground because he has practiced it for years," he said. "He wrestled since he was five years old, and he’s 38 now. Everything I teach him, he absorbs quickly."
"This belt thing, we never cared about it," he continued. "I trained with them only a few times in a gi. Their level is way higher than a blue belt, but I can’t jump belts. That’s something that bothers me, a coach that gives someone a black belt when he didn’t go through the other belts. We have to respect our martial art, it doesn’t matter who’s in your gym. You can’t say ‘you’re the UFC champion, so here’s your black belt’. That’s not how it works. I worked really hard to get my black belt, and we have to respect our sport."
Even if Lesnar has a blue belt around his waist, don’t underestimate his skills on the ground. "Comprido", a two-time absolute world champion in jiu-jitsu, says that Lesnar, Konrad and Morgan give him trouble in the gym.
"It’s hard to analyze that way, but what I can say is that they smash me, man. I don’t have an easy life with any of them," Medeiros said. "But there are aspects of jiu-jitsu that they don’t know, things that a black belt should know, like some self-defense, things that doesn’t make sense to add to their training now. Brock can fight a black belt on the ground, but that doesn’t mean I’ll give him a black belt. And they are not worried about that, to be honest. They trains to gain knowledge and become a better athlete, and I wish all my students were like that."