The Brock Lesnar fans saw at UFC 141 was a greatly diminished athlete according to MMA and pro wrestling business guru Dave Meltzer. Meltzer spoke to MMA Nation's Luke Thomas about Lesnar, his legacy and physical condition coming into his fight with Alistair Overeem:
I think that Brock saw that athletically, he wasn't what he once was and that's all he had going for him. He was a very good athlete who's athletic ability transferred very well to fighting. He was not a great all-around fighter and he was too old to become that. If he was 27 and he goes, "I can shore up these weaknesses," he's 34 and got a lot of mileage. Those four years of pro wrestling took a lot out of his body. There's injuries everywhere and I think that illness devastated him and I think you could see the difference.
I don't think Brock's nearly as quick as he was a couple years ago and that's the difference. I'm sure he can lift the same weights, he's huge but he was never that great all-around fighter. When you lose that speed, there are exceptions but you don't see a lot of freestyle wrestlers in the heavyweight division at 34 competing for Olympic gold. Karelin was done at 32, he was a Greco guy but he was done at 32 so he was even younger than Brock and Kerelin was the biggest physical freak of all physical freaks. Far more than Brock ever was. That's kind of like your prototype. Guys like that, when their bodies break down and they lose that thing, they're done at that level and like most of them, I think that when both of them in their minds thought they were done, they got out.
Fans who are quick to write off Lesnar as a non-talent in MMA are deeply ignorant of the realities of injury, illness and aging on an athlete in his mid-30's. The sad reality is we'll never know what a healthy Lesnar may have accomplished in MMA. I invite all the fans who are calling him 'exposed' 'bully' and 'front-runner' to have a foot of their large intestine removed and then get in the cage with Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem.
Meltzer elaborates on Lesnar's legacy and what might have been:
I think he probably could have been the greatest heavyweight we've ever seen because he did have those athletic gifts and he would have been, at 22, I don't think physically just looking at him he would have been a great striker, but he had such power that I think he could have been a knockout guy and a decent enough striker to set up his wrestling and he'd have been the best wrestler if he'd kept his wrestling up.
You've got to remember, he took eight years off wrestling and then he came back in the sport. You don't see a lot of guys take eight years off wrestling and come back and be what they once were as wrestlers so that Brock Lesnar, yeah, I think he could have been an all-time great. This one coming in at that age, he had a lot going against him but if he didn't have the diverticulitis and he would have been in camp year-round and he would have been learning the submissions because he probably could have been pretty good at the submission game because that comes from wrestling and I think he probably would have done pretty well with that because he is a great student and he's not a stranger to training hard. Striking, he probably never would have been great at, but I think he would have been a lot better.
What was gonna hurt him was when the speed was gone because the speed made him more than the power. Power's great, it is, but this is a speed sport. You look at all of these guys, when they lose a bit of that speed, that's when they fall from the top. It's not when they lose the power. At some point, a guy of his size, 35-36, it still would be tough I would think. I think the diverticulitis, it had to take a lot out of him.