After losing for the first time in some 10 years, Fedor Emelianenko famously said "The man who doesn’t fall, doesn’t stand up."
On Saturday night, Brock Lesnar fell and he fell hard. Shane Carwin’s freakish punching power looked like it was too much for the supposedly unstoppable South Dakotan freight train. Both standing and on the mat, Lesnar ate everything Carwin had to offer for nearly five full minutes.
It was near the five minute mark that Lesnar did what no one had done after taking Carwin’s best shot -- he stood up. Now that this most unlikely of UFC heavyweight champions has secured his place atop the division, there is a certain poetic justice to him living up the words of his predecessor.
This is mine as well.
Let's not mince words: UFC 116 was a brilliant event. That isn't to say the event was perfect or above reproach. There are plenty of valid criticisms to be made. But that was as entertaining as it was paradigm shifting.
Brock Lesnar is a legitimate cultural phenomenon. As it was discussed on Twitter last night amongst media and fans, when was the last time boxing put together an event between heavyweights that over delivered? UFC is reigniting interest in heavyweight fighting or at least helping to cultivate a new generation of fight fans accustomed to seeing heavyweight fighting positioned as the most coveted.
Let us also not forget Shane Carwin brought the thunder to Lesnar in spectacular fashion. Most sober individuals will easily score round one 10-8 for Carwin. My 10-7 is arguably a touch strong especially considering there were moments in the first round where Lesnar clearly scored in addition to several key moments where he defended very ably. Regardless, that was a monumental pounding in the first round. I could barely watch Carwin nimbly and forcibly pin Lesnar's hips to the mat with knee on belly. I'm hardly squeamish, but the crack of Carwin's elbows make even the hardened MMA fan look away. I could not believe Lesnar was able to withstand that kind of imposition. But he did and he fought back.
UFC 116 was a home run in the most meaningful entertainment and sporting way. I take Snowden's criticism that we weren't watching sophisticated technique as fair, but not particularly topical. This isn't the Ultimate Technique Championship or Mixed Martial Techniques. We are watching sport fight and whoever wins in sports fighting is the best. Besides, isn't this the same criticism he faced in collegiate wrestling? Lesnar is finding ways to win and that's what matters. You're not going to see Lesnar hit arm-drag backtakes, but you are going to see hand raised at the end of the fight. There are liabilities to that style, but that doesn't diminish it's offensive potency.
This event seems like the kind that will do more buys than normal in the days following the fight. I'm sure it's done respectable ppv numbers, but this is the kind where those who missed get intrigued by the buzz. It's also the kind of event that makes the job of MMA lobbying to sports audiences a lot easier.