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UFC 121 Aftermath: Just How Bad for Business Is Brock Lesnar's Loss?

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Dana White's face after fight told the story. It's the look of a man who's just seen millions of dollars go up in smoke. When Cain Velasquez battered Brock Lesnar, he didn't just take the title, he likely took a fortune out of his bosses' pockets.

Sure Cain is an exciting new champion who just won in dramatic fashion. Sure he is uniquely marketable as "the first Mexican heavyweight champ" (nevermind former champ Ricco Rodriguez who was 1/2 Mexican-American, 1/2 Puerto Rican and nevermind Cain's U.S. birth). But that's all long-term investment money. The money Dana White would have made off a third consecutive Brock Lesnar title defense against Junior Dos Santos was right here, right now money. Any businessman will take the bird in the hand over the long slow investment if he has the chance.

Geno Mrosko talks about Cain and JDS: 

For all the outrage there was regarding the UFC's decision to market Cain Velasquez based on his heritage, I look forward to seeing how well he will draw as the heavyweight champion. His performance was amazing and was no doubt seen by a lot of people. Now we'll get to find out how much the "first Mexican heavyweight champion" campaign paid off when he goes up against Junior dos Santos in his first title defense. For what it's worth, JDS has never been in a main event fight in the UFC. Side note - my early favorite in the fight? JDS.   

Furthermore, if Cain loses to Junior Dos Santos, then we're back to square one. No dominant champion in the UFC heavyweight division and yet another Brazilian UFC champ. Don't be surprised if Dana White or Lorenzo Fertitta is on the phone to Fedor Emelianenko's camp right now. 

We'll hear from a ton of MMA pundits in the full entry.


Dana White, naturally, tells MMA Junkie there's no problem:

Yes, Brock Lesnar is the UFC's biggest draw. No, the sky is not falling because he lost. 

That's according to UFC president Dana White, who said he won't lose any sleep now that Cain Velasquez reigns over the heavyweight division. 

"It's not about that," White said following Velasquez's title-winning TKO victory over Lesnar (5-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) this past Saturday at UFC 121. "This is fight business. Whoever wins, wins. I don't look at how he is a huge draw and we should do this or that."

"I personally think the competitive side of him is going to come out," White told "We'll see what happens. Brock and I have been fighting a lot over the last month and a half. We'll see how it goes after this."

But while White admitted Lesnar is the UFC's top pay-per-view draw, he brushed aside the idea that Lesnar has lost value with the company. 

"This is mixed martial arts, and every dog has his day," he said. "Tonight was his day. I think people are always going to be interested in Brock, and I think a lot of people are going to be interested in Cain now, too. It's just the sport. It's the way it goes.

"I honestly never even think about stuff like that. Just like when people talk about Frankie Edgar - 'Oh no, Frankie Edgar.' Frankie Edgar is badass. He beat B.J. Penn. People either feel it or they don't, and you know what my philosophy on that is. If you don't, don't [expletive] watch it."      

Dave Meltzer says the UFC will fall back to a lucrative rubber match between ex-champs Lesnar and Frank Mir:

UFC officials, as well as those close to Lesnar, indicated that Frank Mir, with whom Lesnar has split two fights, is his next likely opponent. The fight makes sense. Mir is coming off a knockout win over Mirko Filipovic on Sept. 25, and he has been Lesnar's biggest career rival, with insults between the two going back and forth dating back nearly three years.

Lesnar vs. Mir III is almost guaranteed to be a huge fight, given that Mir is an expert of hyping a fight, but also, legitimately, Mir doesn't like Lesnar, feeling Lesnar disrespected him after beating him at UFC 100. The match would likely be as big or bigger than any championship match that UFC could promote right now.

Their first match was a huge success on pay-per-view. Their second, which Lesnar won via second round TKO, was at the time the biggest match in mixed martial arts history, going by public interest.

The winner of that fight would be right back in championship contention.

That's certainly a good plan and money will be made. But it won't be the kind of money that Lesnar's last three matches produced.

Zach Arnold talks about Brock Lesnar vs Frank Mir 3:

As for Brock Lesnar, he gets Frank Mir in a trilogy match. As the Japanese would term it, this will be a 'survival match' where the winner stays afloat and the loser starts wondering how much longer they have to stay around in the sport.    

Here's Dave Walsh talking about the implications for the UFC if Lesnar leaves in a hurry like he has in the past:

As Jonathan Snowden pointed out, Brock might not have the heart of a fighter (as he has shown in past endeavors), which raises questions about his future. He claims that he'll be back and keep fighting, but it would be a departure from his past. When things began to get rocky for him in WWE, he bailed. When he needed more work to make it in the NFL, he bailed. When Japanese wrestling rolled out the red carpet for him and started asking him to work more than a show a month, he bailed. When K-1 pushed him to the moon but weren't sure how to market him, he bailed. Now Lesnar has found a lucrative home, finally, but that unstoppable viking has been stopped and I'd be hard-pressed to see Lesnar ever having the tools to defeat Velasquez.

If Brock decides not to return, UFC takes a giant hit, as Lesnar has been associated with some of UFC's biggest shows. Ever. Brock Lesnar has always meant ratings, buyrates and money to them. A sound beating at the hands of Cain Velasquez tarnishes what was left of Lesnar's hulking appeal as an unstoppable monster, which began to peel away at the hands of Shane Carwin. The question that has to be asked is; if Lesnar does return and stick with UFC, do the fans still believe in Brock Lesnar the unstoppable monster like they used to, or is he simply just another fighter who let the fans down and didn't live up to his immense hype? Time will only tell.

Matt Bishop is much more optimistic:

This is going to set in motion an interesting year in the division, as the heavyweight division's "big six" all will likely meet each other. Of course, Velasquez will defend against dos Santos, Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson will meet at UFC 125 on Jan. 1 and it only makes sense for Lesnar to meet Frank Mir.

From there, the UFC really can't go wrong no matter what happens. This fight almost certainly turned Velasquez into a star (he was trending on Twitter from the afternoon on and was an extremely hot Google search) as he dominated a fighter many had put a lot of stock into. It remains to be seen if Velasquez is going to make as big an impact in the Latino demographic as the UFC hopes, but regardless, more people know Cain Velasquez today than Friday.

Any combination of those six would make for interesting and sellable fights. In any equation, Mir is probably the last guy on the list to go to, which tells you how strong of a group of six this is. What's great for the UFC is that it doesn't matter whether Velasquez becomes a long-term champion or not, the division has components that will make for good fights regardless.

We'll see. I can't wait to find out how it turns out. But I'm a total UFC mark. It's the casual fans who will decide.