Brock Lesnar, the biggest name in his sport, is not a cancer.
He’s not going to destroy Ultimate Fighting Championship or mixed martial arts. He’s not a bad guy. He’s not a complete jerk, though it appears that he’s the biggest jerk on the planet after his main-event antics against Frank Mir in the very successful UFC 100 last weekend.
Sure, UFC president Dana White handed a tongue-lashing to Lesnar, a former pro wrestler from the WWE, about his bad boy behavior. And sure, Lesnar apologized for his actions that included making obscene hand gestures, insulting Bud Light, UFC 100’s sponsor, during the post-match interview and taunting Mir while he was bloody and swollen and accepting defeat in front of thousands of spectators at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. But he’s good for the sport in terms of making UFC more popular and unpredictable.
Just like in the movies, we all want heroes and villains. And Lesnar definitely falls into the latter, evident by the fact that the Mandalay Bay crowd booed him, which prompted Lesnar to throw up obscene hand gestures. He comes from a company that is dedicated to entertaining fans. He’s used to going on stage in an effort to sell tickets.
But here’s the thing: He has to be honest about his actions. He can’t be acting. He’s an athlete in a sport that struggles every day to separate itself from pro wrestling, where the matches are scripted. So let Lesnar be a jerk — if that’s truly what he is.
MMA fans do not want to be conned.
Again, Lesnar is not going to destroy UFC.
He’s only adding his unique flavor to the sport, however bad in taste it really is. Any fan of boxing would say Mike Tyson was one of the greatest boxers ever, but he was also an entertainer. Muhammad Ali is the greatest boxer to ever put on gloves, but he was perhaps the greatest entertainer to step in front of a microphone. Fans wanted to watch him fight, but they also were eager to hear what he was going to say.
And neither of those two ruined the sport because of their swagger.
In every sport, we have athletes to love and hate. We love the Shaqs. We hate the Kobe Bryants. We love the Tony Romos. We hate the Terrell Owens. We love the Randy Johnsons. We hate the Barry Bonds. Those kind of relationships keep us interested, and we learn from their actions. We understand what’s good and bad, what is acceptable and unacceptable.
And undoubtedly, it keeps us interested.
I’m certainly more interested.
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