Maggie Hendricks makes a case over at Yahoo! Sports' Cagewriter blog. She throws out Alistair Overeem, Bobby Lashley, Fedor Emelianenko, and Shane Carwin as four names that have a potential chance at defeating the behemoth UFC Heavyweight champion. I have a few problems with her assumptions regarding some of the attributes that each of the fighters possess:
Alistair Overeem: If someone of a similar size won't vex Brock, speed will. A fighter who is a champion kickboxer, can cut angles and move quickly? That might the perfect foil to Brock's wrestling and power. That fighter exists in Dutch kickboxer Alistair Overeem.
Overeem faces two problems in overcoming Lesnar. One, he is the Strikeforce heavyweight champion, is fighting for them on August 15, and contractually obligated to Strikeforce. Two, he needs to stay on his feet to be able to use high kicks, but as Lesnar showed on Saturday, his takedown is quite effective.
Bobby Lashley: Like Lesnar, Lashley is a fellow WWE veteran and collegiate wrestler. Unlike Lesnar, Lashley is taking the long and winding road to the UFC. He also has four wins, but his competition hasn't been nearly as difficult as Lesnar's. Lashley's biggest advantage is that he and Lesnar are the same size, and both have a strong wrestling background. With those two factors equal, the fight has the potential of being an all-out slugfest.
Most notably, Bobby Lashley isn't the same size as Brock Lesnar. Specifically, Brock Lesnar cuts to 265 while Lashley weighed in at 255 lbs. against Bob Sapp. Furthermore, Lesnar has been rumored to come in 15-20 lbs. heavier at fight time while Lashley probably doesn't bulk up substantially. The other major problem is that Lashley's wrestling credentials don't match up with Lesnar's background. Lesnar was a NCAA champion while Lashley was a NAIA champion. There's a huge difference.
Lashley isn't a throw away, but I think if they matched up in the cage, even after Lashley gets some more formidable opponents... it'll be another crushing performance for Lesnar.
The assumption that Overeem is speedy is laughable to me. Maybe we could have said that when he was a light heavyweight, but I fail to see how Overeem's speed today with his bulked up frame would help him against Lesnar, who is fairly speedy for a heavyweight. In the comments section, she replied to my comments refuting her claims about Overeem's speed by stating that Hari fight was a factor in her analysis. The big problem I have with that is that Hari looked absolutely scared of Overeem in their K-1 match, and he wasn't his usual overly aggressive self in the ring. Overeem was obviously not speedy against Bonjasky, and his overall power is the biggest difference between the old Overeem and the new beefy Overeem.
Does he stand a chance? My gut tells me a takedown would end Overeem's night, but Overeem's substantial new found power could make an impact on Lesnar's chin. It'd be interesting, but not interesting enough for me to think Overeem stands a chance.
My two highest percentage picks would be Fedor Emelianenko and Shane Carwin. Even those two picks have me skeptical at this point. The strategy that Fedor would use in a match with Lesnar is the ultimate key. Would he focus on trying to actually strike or try to quickly transition against Lesnar? The bout raises a lot of questions that we can't answer.
First and foremost, every one of Fedor's victims have mentioned the fact that he is deceptively strong or one of the strongest guys they have ever faced. It's obvious that Fedor pushes the low rep, high power workouts to build enormous power without the chiseled physique we're used to seeing from today's fighters. It's tough to tell how powerful he actually is, but one thing is for certain -- he can turn that power into an explosive weapon that can end a fight instantly.
He also happens to be one of the quickest heavyweights in the sport. His powerful haymaker against Arlovski wasn't a fluke in terms of speed. His transition game on the floor is absolutely unmatched, and watching his past fights in PRIDE against the ultra-bulked up Mark Coleman show that even the best positional wrestler can't put his arm on the mat for even a split second. It truly makes me wonder if his transition game on the ground would end a fight with Lesnar quickly.
I'd also be heavily intrigued by the clinch game. Fedor is a master of making guys work for takedowns, but Lesnar's power is unheard of in the sport today. Could he implement judo throws from his Sambo base for positional takedowns? It's possible, and there is plenty of training tape out there of Fedor imposing his will on bigger guys.
Lastly, Shane Carwin. Carwin is the most interesting matchup that can potentially happen in the coming months. He has the size to compete with Lesnar, and he's well known for packing an enormous punch with even a jab. Carwin was a D-II NCAA champion in wrestling, but I don't think he can fully stuff a Lesnar takedown. If he can, he has a solid chance of defeating Lesnar. Of course, Carwin must get through a very good wrestler in Cain Velasquez, another fighter who could give Lesnar problems simply based on his technical skills in the wrestling department.
My money is on Fedor Emelianenko though. I'll admit, I'm a bit biased. I absolutely love watching Fedor fight, and just when you think someone might have his number stylistically, he proves you wrong in a big way. The most interesting gameplan against Lesnar involves his transition game, which we haven't seen in quite some time. I want to see the quick Sambo techniques of Emelianenko on display against Lesnar in the Octagon. I'm a bit skeptical that he can do it, but the fans HAVE to see that match. It's a "must have it" fight for any fan anywhere.