What do you get when you combine world class wrestling skill, heavy handed ground and pound, and a fiercely competitive disposition with a 6'3 285 pound quick-learning super athlete? You get a dominant performance like we saw on Saturday night. You also get an increasing sense that there will be life in the heavyweight division after Fedor Emelianenko. Against a legitimate world class opponent, Lesnar put on a dominant display of ground control and striking from within his opponent's guard on Saturday night. In the past couple of years MMA has seen the advent of a new breed of heavyweight prospects emerging: Big heavyweights that are also frighteningly athletic. Just as boxing did years ago, this sport is now entering an era where the heavyweight class will probably be ruled, more often than not, by guys that are closer to 6'5 than 6 feet tall and guys that are closer to 250 than 205. Lesnar is obviously on the far end of that spectrum and could be considered the poster boy for this movement. Brock's physical prowess is a matchup nightmare for most heavyweights. Seeing him compete, I'm reminded of the early 1990's when Shaquille O'Neal first rose to basketball prominence. At that time there were already basketball players that large that actively competed. But there were none that combined that much size with that much skill and athleticism. So it is with Lesnar. From the near effortless takedowns that he's displayed in his fights thus far to his cringe inducing ground and pound, Brock has won over many fans to this sport because of the unique blend of size, athleticism and ability that he brings to the table.
The second round TKO victory at the historic UFC 100 card was huge for the former NCAA national wrestling champion because it established him as the organization's undisputed champion. Prior to Saturday night his critics still had some doubts as to his championship validity because of the earlier loss to Mir, but the dominant way in which he dispatched the former champion left no doubt as to who ruled the roost in the land of UFC heavyweights. This is just one fan's opinion, but in my mind Lesnar has made up much ground in the debate over who is the world's best heavyweight fighter. I do believe that Emelianenko would deservingly be the favorite should they fight, but at this point I'd only have him as a slight favorite and I'd probably rank the two fighters as 1a and 1b instead of numbers 1 and 2 in their weight class. To be sure, there are still questions about Lesnar. I've got my own idea about what type of fighter will be the next to defeat him but I'll save that for a future piece. In the meantime, try to put aside all of the theatrics and the selling of the fight and simply enjoy the fact that, for the first time in awhile, the UFC heavyweight division will be an interesting division to watch again. For so long it lacked both depth and star power but with a few of its current veterans combined with the new generation of talent coming up it now has both. One point of comparison worth noting: through the first five fights of their careers both Lesnar and Emelianenko had achieved a 4-1 record. Brock has now run through two former UFC champions and a Pride veteran early on in his career. The guy knows what he needs to do to win and he does it very well. MMA has long been talent-rich in most of its other divisions and it's now good to finally be excited about the heavyweights again. I don't know what the future holds for heavyweight MMA but after Saturday night I think that we can be assured that it will be exciting. And more than a little bloody. Setting aside the post-fight interview stuff, what were your impressions of Brock's performance on Saturday and what his victory might mean for the UFC heavyweight division?