About a year ago around this time, I wrote about the importance of Brock Lesnar, the UFC heavyweight champion that had the mouth to go along with his pit bull physique. He was a different kind of MMA fighter.
He wasn't humble; he taunted his opponents.
He wasn't shy; he talked about his private life after a win.
He wasn't a puppet; he dissed a sponsor.
He was good for the sport.
After what happened over the weekend, I still stand by that comment.
He's quite a complex character. We've learned that after he forced Shane Carwin to submit in the second round of the title unification bout at UFC 116 in Las Vegas on Saturday night. He thanked his coaches, he thanked his doctor, and he thanked his training partners. If he had more microphone time during the immediate post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, he'd have probably thanked Joe Rogan, too. Lesnar felt truly blessed after the win, and it placed me in juxtaposition.
I want to hate the guy because he's so cocky. But I can't help but love the guy for all the things he said after his win Saturday night.
He's changed, and maybe we're changing with him.
Lesnar went through hell after beating up his main rival, Frank Mir, in July 2009. A few months later, he had to be treated after a rupture in his intestine leaked and tainted his body. He described the feeling as if being shot with a shotgun in the gut. It humbled him.
Lesnar's road to becoming one of the most hated fighters in Ultimate Fighting is almost like a Hollywood script. He was a NCAA champion in wrestling. He tried out for the Minnesota Vikings as a defensive lineman, but his biggest claim to fame was this: He was a Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment superstar.
It all shaped him into arguably the most colorful UFC fighter ever.
After that beating he gave to Mir, he was quite a character. He talked about drinking Coors Light instead of Bud Light, one of UFC's main sponsors. He talked about how badly he dumped Mir inside the eight-sided cage.
But he topped that speech the other night, practically thanking everyone in sight.
“This isn't about me tonight, this is about my family,” Lesnar said to the crowd. “This is about my doctors. This is about my training partners, my training staff. I am blessed by God. Ladies and gentleman, I stand before you a humbled champion.”
The crowd surrounding him cheered loudly.
It was well-deserved.
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