When most of us think of underrated UFC fighters, we knock around names like Jim Miller or Yushin Okami — generally former champions don’t get brought up. Ask Dana White who he believes is currently the UFC’s most underrated fighters and he’ll tell you it’s one of the promotion’s biggest draws and most recognizable stars.
“Brock Lesnar,” White responded to the query, which was posed by a fan during a Q&A session hosted by the Seattle Times. “I don’t think people give him enough credit for how good he really is and what he has accomplished.”
A former professional wrestler — a champion in the sport and one of its most popular stars — Lesnar entered into the sport of MMA after growing tired of pro wrestling and having tried his hand as a pro footballer, making it into the preseason as a defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings before getting cut. Seeking to test his limits and prove himself in tough competition, Lesnar signed up with FEG (parent company of K-1) to appear on their Dynamite!! USA card in 2007 against Hong Man Choi (Choi was eventually replaced by Min Soo Kim).
An outstanding college wrestler, Lesnar was twice declared an NCAA All-American, he won an NCAA Division-1 championship title (in addition to several other championship titles) and amassed an overall record of 106-5 in four years of competition. Shortly after Lesnar began training MMA at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy under Greg Nelson and Marty Morgan, he stepped into the cage against his new opponent Min Soo Kim, whom he defeated via first round submission to strikes.
From there and courtesy of his pro wrestling popularity, Lesnar signed with the UFC, where he fought former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir in his debut. After looking like he was going to pound Mir through the canvas, Lesnar got caught in a kneebar and was forced to submit. The knife-chested behemoth came back strong though, defeating Heath Herring via dominant unanimous decision and then winning the UFC heavyweight title by knocking out Randy Couture. He rematched Mir next and made the first successful defense of his belt by beating Mir mercilessly until the referee stopped the fight.
Following a life- and career-threatening bout with the intestinal illness diverticulitis, Lesnar returned to defend his belt again with a gutsy, come-from-behind submission win over Shane Carwin. He finally lost the strap this past October when he took on Cain Velasquez. Considering the short amount of time he has trained in MMA and the accomplishments he has made in the sport, the argument could certainly be made that Lesnar doesn’t receive the credit he is due, but considering that he generally earns considerably more than most other fighters and is one of the UFC’s most popular and promoted employees, don’t expect to see too many people arguing the point on his behalf.