Half asleep, my wife looked at the TV and saw Brock Lesnar with his hand raised and the belt around his waist as Bruce Buffer announced him as the UFC’s new heavyweight champion.
“Why doesn’t he have a nickname?” she asked.
He doesn’t need one, I reasoned. “His nickname,” I said, “is Brock Lesnar.”
A man with such an amalgam of size, strength, speed and power has no real use for a sobriquet. Since bursting onto the MMA scene a whopping four fights ago, the former WWE champion has stirred our amazement. Writers have exhausted their banks of adjectives and plunged their metaphorical depths to find new and interesting ways to describe this almost indescribable human being known as Brock Lesnar.
Goliath. Behemoth. Monster. Somehow, those words don’t do the job with this dude.
However, my wife, despite being — like Lesnar — a total MMA neophyte, made a good point. Fighters with nicknames vastly outnumber those without. And here was this huge guy, perhaps the biggest cash register in MMA history (Hey, chalk one up for me!), with nothing but a first and last name.
Monikers help give fighters identities, revealing the premier aspect of their styles or personalities. Randy Couture’s intelligence and preparation make it seem like he was born to fight, for example. It wouldn’t be shocking one day if someone sketched his image in a dictionary next to the word “man.” He’s known as “The Natural.”
Should we call Lesnar “The Un-natural”?
After all, his performance in a second-round TKO of Couture on Saturday night reduced this highly complex sport to a simplistic assault in which a 45-year-old man’s wits were no match for a younger man’s astounding gifts.
In the octagon, it’s as if Lensar just says, “I’m very big and I have very big hands. I will hit you with them. May God have mercy on your soul.”
Ever the strategist, Couture seemed to be playing the fight perfectly, to no one’s surprise. He traded blows with Lesnar and wrestled him well despite a 60-pound weight disadvantage. And after a second-round exchange, Lesnar was cut above his eye. It looked like Couture had him flummoxed and primed for exploitation, the very scenario many predicted – or at least hoped – would lead to Lesnar’s downfall.
But, moments later, after a right hand to Couture’s ear, Lesnar was on top of the champion, raining hammer punches like a crazed carpenter in a nail-driving competition. The fight was stopped at 3:07 of the second. The big man ran around, then nearly leaped out of the cage, displaying a little more of his stunning athleticism.
Nickname or not, Lesnar is unlike anything MMA has ever seen.
Maybe we should call him “The Incomparable.”
No one in the heavyweight ranks can match his frightening combination of skills.
His future opponents, though, might not need to. Ask Frank Mir, who in February weathered an attack similar to the one Couture endured before snagging Lesnar’s leg and forcing him to submit via first-round knee-bar at UFC 81.
I wonder if Lesnar caught any of the other action on Saturday night? There was some serious jiu-jitsu going on. Demian Maia, Dustin Hazelett, Matt Brown, and Kenny Florian each was impressive in winning by choke or arm-bar.
And Lesnar’s next foe — Mir or Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira — will possess those capabilities. Mir has perhaps the best BJJ of any heavyweight in the world. The legendary Nogueira, meanwhile, might be able to withstand a tiger mauling and still figure out a way to coax a tapout from the kitty.
While we’re at it, I’m sure a certain chubby-cheeked Russian heavyweight could somehow latch onto one of Lesnar’s extension-pole arms and crank away. Fedor Emelianenko has made a pretty good career out of that sort of thing, you know, even though he might bleed a bit and get tossed around by the powerful men he battles.
Ah, but those matchups are off in the distance and the latter isn’t even in the realm of possibility right now.
The point is this: Lesnar may have won the heavyweight title earlier than anyone expected (or wanted), but his mixed martial arts development is under way and there are several intriguing tests on the horizon despite his lack of refinement. A lot is being asked of Lesnar given his level of experience, but there isn’t really a barometer for the UFC to refer to in handling such a phenom. It’s an uncharted, seat-of-the pants type of ride.
I’m willing to enjoy it.
Some people may have wondered if the UFC blew its wad by staging Lesnar vs. Couture at such a primitive juncture of Lesnar’s career. The promotion could have built him up with several fights against moderate competition and milked more money from awed pay-per view customers.
But Couture’s return squashed that idea. With Mir and Nogueira already set to meet on Dec. 27, there was but one logical challenger for Couture in the UFC ranks, inexperience be damned.
And the novice went out and did his thing against Couture. He Lesnared him.
Hey, when someone’s name could enter the lexicon as a verb for ass-kicking, no nickname is necessary.