|Brock Lesnar reacts after knocking out Frank Mir during their heavyweight title bout during UFC 100 on July 11, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images/AFP)
Brock Lesnar is hands-down the most polarizing figure in mixed-martial arts.
Long-time fans of the sport are quick to point out the behemoth, former pro-wrestler personifies all the things MMA is not.
The UFC heavyweight champ is arrogant, disrespectful and his toolbox is far from that of a rounded fighter.
But to a growing base of loyal fans, Lesnar is the new breed of the 265-lb. class. He’s built like a tank, fast as a missile and improving with each outing.
For his part, Lesnar doesn’t care what others think and he’s not about to apologize for his personality.
“I’m still the ornery SOB I’ve always been,” says Lesnar (4-1).
Lesnar’s title defence against Shane Carwin next weekend at UFC 116 will be his first fight since a bout with diverticulitis nearly forced him to retire.
Lesnar hasn’t fought in a year, but says he received the “all clear” from the Mayo Clinic in January and has been training ever since.
He says the battle with the disease has changed his outlook on life.
“I laid in a hospital bed for over two weeks without any food in my body. I couldn’t put any food in my mouth. You know, I lost 42 pounds at that time,” remembers the 32-year-old.
“The doctors didn’t want my stomach to do any work, so they fed me intravenously. I had two lines, one in my right arm and one in my left. And to wake up every day to be on all them drugs and not be able to put any food in your mouth, yeah, you definitely take a different approach on life.
“You realize that there’s nothing more important in life than your family and you really find out who your friends are when you’re laying there. I felt like I was on my deathbed, I really did. This illness, it kills a lot of people.”
But with that battle behind him, Lesnar says he is fully focused on the undefeated Carwin — an equal physical specimen who has yet to see any of his 12 fights go past the first round.
Lesnar has called on one of MMA’s top strategists — former heavyweight champ Randy “The Natural” Couture — to help him with his camp.
“Randy is the godfather of this sport. I mean, you’ve got your Royce Gracie and all these other guys, but these guys aren’t fighting any more,” says Lesnar.
“You know, Randy’s a once- in-a-lifetime kind of guy.
“He taught me a lot of different things. Because there’s a lot of tricks to the trade and Randy’s one of those guys that he wasn’t always the biggest guy, but he fights very smart.”
UFC 116 goes July 3 and is available in Canada on pay-per-view.