Things I learned about Brock Lesnar after UFC 121
Velasquez winning the fight did not really surprise me. His well-rounded skills and innate speed is certainly difficult to overcome even for someone like Lesnar. Rather, it was Lesnar’s performance in that fight that made me realize something about the monster.
Ever since Lesnar’s prominence in the UFC, I see him as an enigmatic fighter. I definitely revere his awesome size, strength, and athletic ability as they were instantly recognizable but I had lingering doubts about his composure, heart, adaptability, defense, and overall skills as a true MMA competitor.
The problem with Lesnar is the hype that surrounds him. It was really difficult to profile him and rank his aptitude in different aspects of the fight game because of the exaggerations. Many had claimed that he was improving by leaps and bounds and that he’s frighteningly getting better in every fight.
I almost believed that he’s unbeatable after submitting Shane Carwin with an arm triangle choke. But I respected my doubts. He still hadn’t fought Velasquez or Dos Santos. There’s still more to prove.
UFC 121 answered many of my questions and definitely debunked plenty of Brock Lesnar myths. Here are some of the things I’ve realized so far:
Lesnar’s wrestling is not light years ahead of competition
True, Brock was a monster in amateur—as well as professional—wrestling but in terms of MMA wrestling, he still has a lot to learn. He overwhelmed Frank Mir and Heath Herring with takedowns and top control but those two are notoriously weak wrestlers and cannot defend a takedown.
The washed-out Couture did well against Lesnar in the wrestling department considering that Randy is ancient and severely out-weighed in that fight. Couture’s wrestling skills were enough to prevent Lesnar from dominating him on the ground.
It was more of sheer strength and size that Lesnar’s able to devastate his opponents. Carwin nullified Brock’s takedowns in the first round and succumbed in the second round but it was due to Shane’s exhaustion not because of Brock’s technique.
In his last fight, Brock out-muscled Velasquez to make a successful takedown but he could not control Cain and maintain top position. On the other hand, Cain managed to take Lesnar down. The American-Mexican also took Brock’s back and pounded him with some good shots. That was the beginning of the end of Brock that night.
Brock cannot defend the ground and pound
Lesnar is a fearsome creature when he’s on top and pounding the crap out of you but when he’s on the receiving end, he doesn’t know what to do. He is bad on his back and incapable of defending intelligently. His only defensive tool is to simply block his face with his enormous forearms.
Lesnar has poor stand-up offense…
It may be an understatement now but people (including me) were once misled to believe that he was a “good” striker. His much-hyped knockdown of Herring and knockout of Couture helped build that reputation. But in reality, the former was merely a fluke and old Couture’s chin is not what it used to be.
Brock is a sloppy striker and he only has the 1-2 in his punching repertoire. Have you ever seen him throw a left hook? All he does is jab and try to land his straight… either those or go for the shoot/clinch. He does not have enough variety in his attacks.
…and even worse defense
Brock is easy to hit. If he stays within striking distance and chooses not to clinch or grapple, he will eat punches and kicks.
Lesnar has a good chin but cannot cope when hit
Give him props for surviving Carwin’s punch. He got clipped but recovered. Brock almost lost that fight. The referee’s decision not to stop the fight helped him greatly and fortunately for Lesnar, Shane has a very limited gas tank. Carwin had nothing left to spare in the second round.
What really struck me in that fight was Lesnar’s reaction when hit by a good shot. He instinctively turtled up after scrambling like a fool. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt; it was a Carwin punch after all.
He repeated that behavior against Velasquez. He doesn’t seem to have the heart, or perhaps the knowledge, to execute the defensive techniques he learned back in camp. His fear of getting hit again by a hard shot compels him to revert back to his flee instincts and that is to cover up for dear life.
Brock Lesnar lacks composure and maturity
Brock had actually thought that he could just bull rush and overwhelm any opponent with his size and strength. Well, he was proven wrong.
He had become a product of his own hype.