“Brock came in. You know, he popped for that thing, but he beat Mark Hunt, who was one of the top guys. He’s a former world champion, and it’s a fight that people want to see.”
That was Dana White at the UFC 226 post-fight press conference, who he didn’t exactly do a good job at trying to justify Brock Lesnar getting a title shot in 2018. But honestly, how could anyone?
Lesnar’s 2016 decision win over Hunt was overturned because he failed a drug test. Prior to that, he had a long hiatus and two losses to Alistair Overeem and Cain Velasquez, meaning his last official UFC victory dates back to July of 2010.
Let’s face it. From a sporting perspective, Cormier vs Lesnar just doesn’t make sense at all.
Somehow, despite knowing all that, I am still all for it.
About a decade ago, people complained that Lesnar didn’t deserve a title shot against Randy Couture coming off of just one UFC win. It all became a moot point when he managed to win the belt and turn into longest reigning heavyweight champion at the time.
That may not happen now against Daniel Cormier, but I didn’t complain then and I’m not about to complain now — provided that everyone passes their USADA tests.
While Lesnar is also a legitimate fighter and former champion, this match up does add a certain “freakshow” aspect to everything. Some fans just hate that concept, but these types of bouts have always been an integral part of mixed martial arts through the years. Honestly, this wouldn’t even be the weirdest plan they’ve had for 2018.
After countless weeks of watching dull cards that had little to no star power, I am more than open to the idea of adding fighters who are also true entertainers with a legitimate following just to switch things up and add a little flair to things.
Lesnar, as he briefly showed in the aftermath of UFC 226, is still a larger than life character. Say what you want about the polarizing figure, but he will unquestionably draw more interest to the heavyweight title than any other current challenger on the roster.
Speaking of deserving challengers, who exactly should be next for Cormier?
Derrick Lewis vs Francis Ngannou was supposedly for the next title shot, but that 15-minute staring contest effectively killed that idea. Even Lewis himself says the “embarrassing” win hurt his stock so bad that “for sure” he doesn’t deserve the next crack at the belt.
Cormier also reiterated his plans to retire before his 40th birthday this March. After clearing out the 205 lb division and even facing talented but relatively unknown challengers, is that what we expect him to do again at heavyweight for what could be his retirement fight?
Jon Jones isn’t an option right now, and Cormier says he’d only be willing to endure another drastic cut to 205 lbs if Alexander Gustafsson does “something spectacular”. So if the current options are Lesnar or Lewis, I can’t fault Cormier and the UFC for picking the spectacle over sport on this occasion.
Lewis can always face Curtis Blaydes next to determine a clear number one contender. They can even put them on the same card to maximize exposure and serve as back ups in case either headliner has to pull out.
Cormier just made history and he has fought the best this sport has to offer in two weight classes. He has earned the right to go for big money match ups at the twilight of his career, and if that leads to a fun match up that gets people to tune in again, then I’m all for it.
Lesnar vs Cormier may not make sense sporting-wise, but it’s also a spectacle that the sport could use right now.