It has begun. Everywhere and anywhere, we are watching Brock do the talk show circuit. He is affable with the talk show hosts and interviewers. Gone is the grizzled, ill tempered Brock and in his place a bear of a man that just wants to hunt, hang out with his family, and make a solid living. His popularity will rise again as TUF plays out, his comfortable nature in front of the cameras coming thru, winning over fans, lulling them into believing he will defeat Junior Dos Santos. But, let's call this what it is. The End.
I have always felt that Brock was first and foremost an entertainer. He was molded by Paul Heyman perfectly and he, like any other entertainer, lives for the roar of the crowd. And roars did he hear from the UFC faithful culminating in UFC 100. To this day, and probably for years to come, it is and will be the highest grossing PPV in the UFC's history. And on that night he was The Entertainer. He snarled, he growled, he cussed out everyone and established his persona of "The Baddest Man on the Planet". He seemed invincible, so much so that he tricked almost all of MMA's media to vault him high atop the rankings with just a handful of bouts under his belt. Then the first shoe fell.
Brock, a rich man with a family, was stranded in Canada with what seemed like a hopeless outcome. Fortunately, he was able to get to one of our country's best hospitals and averted a horrible fate. That changes you. How? For everyone the response is different. For Brock, it softened his edges as he likely had to consider what he was doing. In that moment, he had to look around and say "I have a pretty good life.", and then the worst thing that can happen to a fighter happened to Brock, he became civilized. Gone was the Beast. Soon, he would face Shane Carwin and the other shoe dropped. His "invincibility" was obliterated. Yes, he endured a barrage of blows but huge weaknesses were exposed and his time at the top of the mountain was on a death watch.
We know what happened next. Even Brock seemed resigned to his fate, he had no answer for Cain Velasquesz and he was utterly decimated by him. Soon, he would disappear and we would only get distant pictures of him on the side of some hill with a deer strapped to his back. He became the recluse. Dana even admitted he had not heard hide nor hair of Brock. What to do with the sport's highest grossing star?
Dana was faced with a conundrum. Brock's stand up game had been lit up like a Christmas Tree two fights in a row. Brock showed zero improvement between those fights. So, Dana floated the idea of Brock/Mir III to which he received a chorus of boos on his Twitter page that put the instant kabosh on that idea. The UFC faithful didn't want to see Brock take a step down in competition, but that meant he would continue to get blasted. He simply is not up to snuff against the heavyweight division's elites. His relevancy would sink as quickly as a certain Russian's did on that sad, cold February night.
But, Dana knows what Vince knew, what Heyman knew. That Brock is an entertainer and that he loves his money. If the BROCKLESNAR hype train was going to come to its final stop, make it last. I can't imagine how much Brock was offered to do TUF, what percentage of the PPV cut he will get to once again get torn apart by an elite striker. We know Dana even shortened the TUF season to accommodate "The World's Not So Bad Man" and his desire to stay home. We know it wasn't easy, even Dana admitted as much.
"I deal with Brock in very short spurts. The guy fights two or three times a year, it’s always tough"
Yet, Dana succeeded in landing his Big Fish for what should be a big payday and the final days of Brock fighting regularly in the UFC. I don't see him beating JDS. I see no fight in this man and haven't for some time. Going in to a fight with a hungry, Brazilian killer with that kind of mentality is not going to be pretty. On the morning of June 12th Brock will be a flash in the pan, a brilliant flash, but a flash indeed. The MMA landscape is littered with them. But, none as high profile as Brock. What will the UFC look like without him? I floated the idea in this fan post of Brock moving over to Strikeforce. There he would be free to make a few mill once a year for Vince and have some fights against the likes of Fedor or Reem. Is that financially possible? In fact, what fight would there be for Brock in the UFC that would give him the financial incentive to continue if he loses to Dos Santos in similar fashion he did to Cain? What would we, as fans, want to see so badly that it would give Dana the incentive to make Brock an offer that will draw him away from his peaceful Minnesota confines? There isn't one.
Sure, Brock might take a fight or two down the road, but his days of reigning over the division are gone. He simply can not compete with the top of the division and he has shown no desire to adapt his game so that he might be able to, similar to our Russian friend.
So, let's enjoy this last lap. We can reminisce about the days when Brock bounced around the cage like a wild animal. We can fondly remember the strawberries. This "era" is here for its encore, for better or worse. You can stand and applaud or say good riddance. I simply say farewell and thanks for this last tour.