Brock Lesnar: Fighters, Fans, and Insiders Sound Off
In just four appearances in the UFC, Brock Lesnar has created more buzz than almost any other fighter in the history of mixed martial arts. Whether they view Brock as an gifted athlete or as an over-paid jerk, many MMA fans have something to say about him. I asked fans, fighters and people in the business of MMA if Brock Lesnar good or bad for the sport and you might be surprised by what they had to say.
Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Dream / Kingdom MMA middleweight: “Brock Lesner is fantastic for MMA and for [the] UFC in particular. We have not had such a polarizing figure in MMA since Tito Ortiz. Every sport needs its “bad-guy” and mixed martial arts has found their own. Drama sells tickets and everyone will pay to see someone possibly smash Brock.”
Jesse Moore, Sylacauga, Ala., fan: “Brock Lesnar is definitely bad for MMA. He might be able to fight, but he has brought that WWE bad-boy crap to our sport, and that is the difference between us and them. We are about respect and good sportsmanship, and all these wrestlers, or “sports entertainment” people want to do is spit in each other’s faces so they can look cool. He is a bad sport that will, with him being champion, ultimately ruin it for the rest of us.”
Tim Sylvia, former UFC heavyweight champion: “I think the sport has come too far for this guy to come in and act like he is still a pro wrestler. He needs to just let his fighting do the talking.”
Nate Quarry, UFC middleweight: “I think Brock is good for making the sport of MMA more recognizable. You need people to love you or hate you and I think he did that with his last fight. People tend to forget that he is a legitimate athlete who trains with a great team. He was the best wrestler in the country at his weight on more than one occasion. Plus, that’s what I love about fighting. If he went out there and lost every fight, he’d go away. But he wins. He proves that he deserves to be at the top of the heap by winning. He didn’t need a belt in karate or ju jitsu. He didn’t need a certificate from some sensei. He showed up, he fought, he won. Gotta love it.”
Mark Harlacher, Breezewood, Pa., fan: “Lesnar is completely bad for the sport. The UFC is still a fragile seed and the only way for that seed to grow is through people seeing the true side to what a mixed martial artist really is. UFC 100 had more new eyes viewing it than ever. What exactly do you think those new fans, or even current fans were thinking after that fight? It was embarrassing to see Lesnar act the way he did…showing disrespect toward fellow athletes and sponsors. He needs to realize his place. He needs the fans more than we need him.”
Gray Maynard, UFC lightweight: “The guy is hardworking, big, athletic, controversial and most importantly he wins! As long as Brock keeps winning, a microphone will be in his face and people will be listening to his every word. When people are emotionally involved, [it] sells tickets and pay-per-views! From a business standpoint, “if it makes dollars, it makes sense.” So yes, Brock is good for the sport. But do I agree with or understand the way any of these guys act? No.
Chuck Mabe, Rising Sun, Md., fan: “Brock Lesnar is only good for selling tickets and making people money. Sure, he will help MMA to be bigger than ever, but at what cost? He will kill all that MMA is. He makes MMA and the UFC look like WWE. He has no respect and is just another bad guy personality that everyone will either love or hate. I personally can’t stand him and will only watch him with the hope that someone can humble him.”
Pat Miletich, former UFC champion, owner Miletich Fighting Systems: “I would say Brock is actually good for the sport. He has always been a high-profile athlete and is usually very well-spoken. I think his statements after the last fight were a combo of adrenaline and WWE showmanship. He will throttle his post-fight words back a bit and all will go well from there.”
Donna Puleio, mmafightspace.com: “The truth is, I think he is good for the sport. He makes you realize just how hard all these other MMA fighters train (unlike himself). It is not easy to step into the cage and go toe-to- toe with another guy, let alone some gigantic freak of nature. He makes you realize the discipline, stamina and dedication of its athletes, and most of all the true love of the sport—and not just the pay day.”
Hans Molenkamp, Triumph*United: “Brock Lesnar in MMA is somewhat of a paradox. On one hand, he brings the intensity and power of sports entertainment to the Octagon, which brings a new audience and potential larger sponsors to the sport. On the other hand, he brings everything wrong with sports entertainment—lack of showmanship, humility and ethics that don’t really translate into the goal of creating a noble sport. Doses of Brock may be ok, but please keep the microphone away from him.”
Evan Shoman, MMA artist: “[Lesnar is] not just good [for the sport], but phenomenal—a beast of an athlete who shows not everyone has to be a seasoned vet to win or be a world champion. His post-fight antics are over the top in a way that people will pay to watch him get smashed. If he keeps winning, his haters and fans will keep paying for PPVs—to either see him fight or get beat. Either way, it is good for everyone in MMA. His disrespect is a bit theatrical but who cares? …it doesn’t reflect poorly on the sport as a whole. I don’t hate baseball because Jason Giambi did steroids. I hate baseball because it is boring as shit.
Ryan Bader, UFC light heavyweight: “I think Brock is good for MMA. He is bringing in more fans and interest whether you love him or hate him.”
Shannon Hooper, Excel Sports Management: “Both. Brock Lesnar is good for the sport in that he brings new fans with him from his previous endeavors. He’s charismatic. People want to watch him fight. However, there’s just no denying that it makes professional MMA look like a hobby sport when someone with four fights is a world champion. Luckily, the casual fan doesn’t seem to care what Brock’s pedigree is. They just want to see him fight.”
Phil Lanides, Fight of Your Life Communications: “It depends on whose opinion you care about. If the hardcore MMA enthusiasts are your biggest concern, then Brock is a bad thing: he’s a big, disrespectful pro wrestler who has yet to truly pay his dues in the sport. But if the true mainstream is where MMA wants to go, then Brock Lesnar is ultimately a good thing. He brings the athletic credentials, the familiarity, and the big-time antagonistic persona that is needed to really help the sport continue to explode into the national sports consciousness. Plainly put, people will be flocking to the sport to see who will topple the giant.”
Rashad Evans, former UFC light heavyweight champion: “I don’t think he is bad for the sport, I just think he is still young in the sport and he is a bit unsure of himself so he gets really emotional when he wins. You’ve got to remember that is prior experience in the WWE is where he learned how to be in the spotlight, so a big part of him is still learning how to balance out the UFC and WWE.”