Brock Lesnar at yesterday's open workout for UFC 116.
After a long absence Brock Lesnar is back. But he's not the Lesnar we've seen before. This new Lesnar is coming to the cage with a bagful of tricks, including, if he can be believed, a southpaw stance.
"I brought in Peter Welch, and we changed my stance and switched it from traditional to southpaw," he said. "It's really worked out, helped on wrestling and shooting. We changed a lot of things and we'll see if they work I guess."
Two things and we'll tackle the first before focusing on the second: this could certainly all be a ruse. Lesnar's camp is ultra-secretive and it is pretty unusual for them to release this kind of information before the fight. When I interviewed coach Marty Morgan for my story on Lesnar teammate Cole Konrad, he basically shut down any attempts to discuss Lesnar. So do the champion's training partners.This could all be a last minute mental game to get in opponent Shane Carwin's head. It's definitely given Shane something to think about in the days leading up to the fight.
But let's put that aside and assume he's going to actually fight with his strong hand forward. What does this mean for his standup game? As with all things, we'll turn to Wikipedia for the basics:
A skilled right-hander, such as Roy Jones Jr. or Marvin Hagler may switch to the left-handed (southpaw) stance to take advantage of the fact that most fighters lack experience against lefties. In addition, a right-hander in southpaw with a powerful left cross obtains an explosive new combination. The converted southpaw may use a right jab followed by a left cross, with the intention of making the opponent slip to the outside of his left side. Then the converted right-hander can simply turn his body left and face his opponent, placing him in orthodox, and follow up with an unexpected right cross. If the southpaw fighter is right-hand dominant with a strong left cross, this puts the opponent in danger of knockout from each punch in the combination, as jabs with the power hand can stun or KO in heavier weight classes.
For MMA, the southpaw stance is used regularly by wrestlers. Matt Lindland, Matt Hughes, and Kid Yamamoto have all used the stance to put their strong side forward. This doesn't just throw off your opponent's stand up game-it also helps your wrestling game. Your shots will be faster and stronger and, just as importantly, you will be defending a shot with the strong side as well. If Lesnar is going southpaw he's doing it for one reason: he is looking to put Shane Carwin down and put him down fast.
More on the man who's shaking up Lesnar's game after the jump.
The coach Lesnar's team brought in to change up his game is one of the most experienced boxing coaches in MMA. Peter Welch is the boxing coach for The Ultimate Fighter:
"As far as traditional boxing technique is concerned, they weren’t even on the chart," said Welch. "They had nothing. But what they did have, and I think all MMA fighters have it, is that drive, that ability to overcome things with that internal drive that they have. And it doesn’t hurt that they have small gloves on. If you catch someone on the chin with a small glove it’s like hitting someone with nothing on your hands. It makes up for lack of technique, so to speak."
A new attitude has come along with these new techniques. Heavy.com's Jeremy Botter says the normally angry and morose Lesnar has been in high spirits this week.
But the Lesnar we met today at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas wasn’t angry. He wasn’t surly. He was jovial. After a brief workout period that revealed absolutely nothing about Lesnar’s technical improvements, the massive champion strolled over to the media area. On his way, he stopped in front of a poster of opponent Shane Carwin. Placing his hands on top of the poster as if to lean on it, Lesnar quickly toppled the image of his foe to the floor, then cracked a grin.
"Sorry about that, guys. I just leaned on it," he says with a mischievous grin. "I’m sorry about that. I just leaned on that thing and it fell over. I don’t know what happened there."
That's a lot of change for one fight-in weight, in attitude, and in style. After the fight we'll either be gushing over the new and improved Lesnar-or we'll be wondering why Morgan and Welch violated one of sport's oldest rules: "If it aint broke, don't fix it."