Brock Lesnar was heavily hyped for the second fight in a row. For the second fight in a row the mammoth UFC champion cowered at the first sign of danger. Joe Rogan likes to say that Lesnar is the modern reincarnation of a Viking warrior. If that's true, he's the one who never ventured off the boat, or at least did so very carefully and only after making sure the coast was very clear.
Brock Lesnar has all the tools to dominate UFC competition. He's physically overpowering, with strong wrestling and giant hands, tailor-made for clubbering. What he doesn't have is the heart of a warrior. That's not a critique of his value as a person. It's a natural reaction to cringe and defend when a huge fighter like Cain Velasquez is pummeling you. But it's not the right reaction for a man who wants to be the Ultimate Fighting champion.
For Lesnar, the weakness might not even be mental. It could be, like many promising fighters past and present, he just can't take the blows. Tonight he took a glancing blow from Velasquez, careened into his hip, then stumbled around the cage like a drunk at last call (or like Zab Judah after being knocked silly by Kosta Tszyu). It wasn't dignified, but it was certainly memorable.
Velasquez, for his part, never lost his composure. The first ever Mexican heavyweight champion was calm and collected, even as the 265 pound Lesnar took him to the mat. He not only escaped harm, he actually got to his feet and secured a takedown of his own. Cain showed all the promise, lived up to the lofty expectations, and performed even more superbly than expected. When Lesnar was shaken, Velasquez was right there for the kill, never losing control like Shane Carwin had, always cognizant of his positioning and picking his shots. It was a masterful performance.
We all thought that this might be the era of the dominant heavyweight champion. But who knew it would be the Velasquez era? We knew Cain was good, but he showed the tools to be great tonight. The king is dead - long live the king.