But as he heads into Saturday’s UFC 87 showdown against rugged veteran Heath Herring, he runs the risk that his headlining fame will be over just as quickly as it started.
"There’s always pressure to win in every circumstance," said Lesnar. "Me, being very new, nobody wants to follow a loser. I don’t want to say my back is against the wall, but I put pressure on myself. There’s no added pressure in my mind, but I want to win the fight."
Lesnar can’t afford a second straight loss on a major pay-per-view event and still be considered a long-term main eventer.
And with a hefty contract, Lesnar (1-1 overall; 0-1 UFC) is unlikely to be kept around unless he can be a major pay-per-view seller. It’s not a lock that if he loses he’ll be gone, but if he looks bad or is knocked out, it’s a distinct possibility. UFC last year cut Mirko Cro Cop, a similarly highly paid heavyweight, after two losses.
It's difficult to not get caught up in the storyline of Lensar. That is, there is something to the idea of destiny ushering him to winning and becoming a contender. But I personally see that narrative as more wishful thinking and our imaginations on autopilot than what is actually the likely outcome. We shall see.
The more important point is, whether my predictions are right or wrong, what if Lesnar loses? Should the UFC cut him? The UFC has let fighters in similar predicaments retool themselves on the smaller circuit, but does Lesnar have the patience and willingness to work smaller shows? It's not as if he found fame in the UFC; he got into the UFC partly on his existing fame. My best guess is if Lesnar loses but puts up a great fight, they'll keep him around to mop up the Justin McCully's and Colin Robinson's of the world until he's ready to face stiffer competition.