Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In which we finally say "fuck it" and write the sports column the Record should have

Since the Record's apparently ditched the concept of a sports column, I've decided to pick up the slack. Feel free to print this up and glue it over whatever bullshit they put on the front of the sports section this week. Noone cares about women's basketball anyways. And yes, I purposely picked a subject the Record all but completely ignores to point out how shitty their overall sports coverage is. So here goes...

UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, good or bad for MMA?

Being a fan of both Mixed Martial Arts and pro wrestling, a lot of my MMA fan friends would ask me what I thought Brock Lesnar's chances against Randy Couture were. Most people I talked to thought Couture was going to pick Lesnar apart and expose him as the fake wrestling fraud they thought he was. I wasn't so confident.

While Couture is superior to Lesnar in pretty much every facet of MMA, people seem to forget just how big, strong, and fast Lesnar is. That may not completely make up for his still-developing fighting skills, but the discrepancy between Lesnar's size, strength, and speed and Couture's is almost a big as the new heavyweight champ himself. Plus, having fists the size of a Thanksgiving turkey helps.

As most people know by now, Lesnar caught Couture in the second round right on the temple with one of those turkey-sized fists and became the first man to become both WWE champion and UFC champion. And as with all sports the negative Nancys came out almost immediately, calling his title reign a disgrace to the sport MMA. The guy did fake wrestling for fuck's sake. Now people will discredit UFC because they have a former fake wrestler champion.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I disagree with those claims. For one, people tend to forget (or ignore) the fact that before he was WWE champ, he was an NCAA Champion in wrestling. Most MMA experts agree that wrestling is the best base skillset a fighter can have when getting into the sport.

I also disagree with the notion that his percieved inexperience is a bad thing. What happens if Couture wins? He beats the winner of next month's Nogueira/Mir fight and then the slow burn towards Fedor/Couture would have continued. He's already pretty much mowed through all the viable heavyweights so the only real money fight he had left was the fight with Fedor.

With Brock winning the title, the UFC has multiple fresh matchups they can build PPVs around. Some of the more intriguing matchups would be a rematch with the only guy to beat Lesnar, Frank Mir. Especially if he beats Nogueira to make it a title unification fight. Chuck Liddell's flirted with moving up a weight class, which would make for a great battle of punching power. And you can't tell me a potential Lesnar/Gonzaga fight doesn't get your dick a little hard.

Perhaps the biggest reason Lesnar winning the title is good for MMA is it could mark the return of the legitimate heavyweight. Don't get me wrong, I think Couture is a tremendous fighter, but he doesn't look like a heavyweight. Lesnar out weighed him by 40 pounds (officially, legitimately it was more like 60) in their fight. Couture is a heavy light-heavyweight. Lesnar has to cut weight to make heavyweight. I don't have any stats to back this up, but having a dude who looks as imposing as Lesnar does can only be good for the UFC. Hell, EliteXC only survived for as long as it did because of the imposing-looking Kimbo Slice. If there's one thing casual fight fans want to see, it's two big dudes beating the shit out of each other. Sure the lower weight classes provide entertaining fights, but the heavyweight division has been the money division going back to the days of boxing.

Look, I understand the arguement against Lesnar's quick rise in the UFC. Lesnar himself said before the fight that he probably didn't deserve a title shot this early in his career. But at the end of the day, anything that increases the exposure of MMA (Ok, anything that doesn't involve a hit-and-run in an SUV with your likeness plastered on the side) is a good thing for the sport.

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