MMA Game Changers: Brock Lesnar

nullThis is the first in a series of posts I will be doing on game changers in MMA history.

Starting in the heavyweight division, I point to Brock Lesnar.

Love him or hate him, Lesnar’s arrival to the MMA scene changed the face of the division forever.

Despite just 7 pro fights in his career, you can clearly see a difference between how the division works now compared to how it worked when he first arrived.

Lesnar first appeared in MMA in 2007 and made his UFC debut in early 2008.

At the time, the heavyweight division had been run by the likes of Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, two predominant strikers.

Then came Randy Couture, a man who now can’t even fight at heavyweight due to the size differential. Couture was the heavyweight champion when Lesnar broke into the octagon.

When Lesnar showed up, everyone paid attention. Not only did it seem like a gimmick that a pro wrestler would move into MMA and into the UFC, but his shear size was hard to ignore.

Lesnar was and is the definition of a heavyweight. He actually has to cut weight to reach 265 pounds, yet he somehow manages to stay light on his feet. Lesnar’s athleticism was a clear problem for everyone in the UFC, even Frank Mir, who managed to beat him by submission in his UFC debut.

After that, Lesnar was a wrecking machine, tearing through Heath Herring, Couture, and Mir while earning the UFC Championship.

Lesnar’s big hands and powerful punches, combined with his collegiate wrestling background, posed a real problem for the crop of UFC heavyweights at the time.

His size forced Couture to have to move back to light heavyweight and for other heavyweights to have to really beef up to compete with him.

Just look at Frank Mir, who was always somewhat flabby, but his encounters with Lesnar forced him to really get into shape and add muscle.

Lesnar seemed unbeatable for a small stretch of time, but then a new form of fighter started to emerge.

Soon, Shane Carwin, Junior dos Santos, and Cain Velasquez came onto the scene.

While dos Santos isn’t known for his wrestling, Carwin and Velasquez each had success on the mats in college and they took that base into MMA and developed into powerful strikers.

Carwin nearly had Lesnar beat because he could stuff his takedowns and keep the fight standing. While Carwin didn’t get the job done, Velasquez did. The key to Cain winning the title was being able to not only get off his back, but also have the explosiveness to take Lesnar down himself.

A few years ago, the idea of someone taking Lesnar down was ludicrous. That just shows how the game has changed since Lesnar has arrived in the UFC.

The heavyweight fighters of today are bigger, they are stronger, and many have a strength in wrestling.

Brock Lesnar was the first of this group to arrive in the UFC, and that is what makes him a game changer.


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