ANAHEIM CA - OCTOBER 22: UFC heavyweight Brock Lesnar (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
They say you see the true heart of a champion only after they've been knocked down. After all, how can you gauge how well a man responds to adversity if he's never even been tested? Well, Brock Lesnar has been tested in the Octagon - and found wanting.
Against Shane Carwin he ran across the cage to avoid thunderous blows. Against Cain Velasquez he wasn't even allowed that much dignity, pirouetting and cartwheeling around the Octagon like he was part of a drunken dance recital. You'd expect a true champion and a title contender to be clamoring to get back in the cage with his conqueror. To want to prove he is as good as the hype, to reestablish his place in the pecking order. But there's a question about who Brock Lesnar is at his core.
Simply put, Brock is a bully. When backed into a corner his instinct isn't to take the hard path. It's to find prey he thinks he can conquer - and attack. Bryan Alvarez, editor of the Wrestling Observer's sister newsletter Figure Four Weekly, says Brock isn't looking to rematch Carwin or get a return bout with Velasquez. Instead, Lesnar reportedly has set his sights on Roy Nelson.
Now there's nothing wrong with Roy Nelson. He's a talented fighter, a mid-level heavyweight contender who is most famous for hiding a 205 pound potential champion inside a 265 pound rolly polly package. But isn't it a little odd for a former champion, the UFC's flagship fighter, to be challenging a guy who's best career win was against prospect Brendan Schaub? Nelson isn't a top-shelf contender. He's a guy who has fallen short time and again against the top level competition he's faced, including a recent beating incurred at the hands of heavyweight contender Junior dos Santos.
Contrast Lesnar's approach to the recently vanquished heavyweight kingpin Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor didn't respond to his loss to Fabricio Werdum by challenging Jeff Monson. He asked for a rematch with the man who made him tap:
"Certainly I would like to have a rematch with Fabricio. If he agrees, I would love to do that. The one who doesn't fall doesn't stand up. It happens that I was made kind of an idol. Everybody loses. That happens. I'm a normal human being, as are all of us. If it is God's will, the next fight I'll win."
So why is Lesnar challenging a fighter who isn't in the title hunt? Because he thinks it's easier. He thinks he can roll right over the fat kid - and he's probably right. But even asking for this fight shows plenty about Lesnar and where he is mentally. This isn't the confident move of a fighter on his way back up the ladder. This is the path of the bully, the more favorable route, and the mindset of a fighter still a little shell shocked after consecutive shellackings.