November 15, 2008
Lesnar out to prove his critics wrong
By JOSE RODRIGUEZ - Calgary Sun
It was a moment that left as big an impression on fans as the one-sided tilt they'd just witnessed.
After dominating Heath "The Texas Crazy Horse" Herring for three rounds last August, Brock Lesnar began taunting his downed opponent after the final bell had rung.
In a sport where most athletes embrace and shake hands after battle, Lesnar spun a mock lasso over his head and pretended to gallop away while "The Texas Crazy Horse" was still trying to pick himself up off the mat.
Post-fight showboating is rare in mixed martial arts and Lesnar assures he's not trying to bring the drama of make-believe wrestling into the real-as-it-gets Octagon.
"That was just my emotions coming out," says the 31-year-old former WWE star, who will take on Randy "The Natural" Couture tonight for the UFC heavyweight crown.
"I was very excited to win that fight and there were some things said by the Herring camp. That was me getting the last word. I'm a sportsman."
As for the worlds of mixed martial arts and pro wrestling ever colliding, Lesnar says MMA fans can rest easy.
"I'm here to represent amateur wrestling," says Lesnar, a decorated college grappler.
"Would there be other pro wrestlers that could make this transition? Absolutely not. Because they don't have the background that I have."
The UFC has been careful to bill Lesnar as a former NCAA heavyweight champ and his days in the world of pretend-fighting are seldom referenced.
Lesnar says fans shouldn't mistaken his confidence for arrogance.
"Whether I come across cocky, take it for what you want," says Lesnar.
The 6-foot-3 behemoth says he's spent the last nine weeks training in the Minnesota backwoods with nothing but Randy Couture videos and clippings.
"We got to know Randy pretty well," says Lesnar.
"I've watched every fight that Randy Couture has ever fought in the UFC."
He says he's come out of his camp healthy and any weaknesses he's shown in his previous two UFC fights -- a loss to Frank Mir and a trouncing of Herring -- have been addressed.
"Between the Herring fight and now, I would have to say I'm more confident on my feet now and confident on the bottom," says Lesnar.
Lesnar shrugs off criticism from those who say his record isn't good enough to earn him a title shot.
"I'm tired of talking about it. I'm tired of thinking about it. I want to get down to Las Vegas, sharpen the blades and get ready for war," he says.
Tonight's UFC 91 is available in Canada on pay-per-view.
Predictions for tonight's UFC 91 fights:
- Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar for the UFC heavyweight title: Many have lost big betting against Randy Couture but the combination of 15 months of cage rust and a 45-year-old frame will be too much for Couture to overcome. I'll take Brock Lesnar to finish the fight with a third-round TKO.
- Kenny Florian vs. Joe Stevenson: Grab your favourite loonie, toss in the air and make a call. This could prove to be the fight of the night, with two exciting lightweights eager to get closer to a shot at the title. I'll take Florian by decision.
- Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Josh Hendricks: Heavyweight fights are either great or awful. They are rarely anything in between. The Gonzaga-Hendricks affair has all the makings of a slow, plodding trot to the 15-minute mark. I'll take Gonzaga by decision.
- Demian Maia vs. Nate Quarry: Maia is coming off a win over Canada's Jason MacDonald that stretched his unbeaten record to 8-0. Quarry has good power, but Maia's submissions are among the best in the game. I pick Maia by third-round submission.
- Dustin Hazelett vs. Tamdan McCrory: This is a last-minute substitute on the main card for the Amir Sadollah-Nick Catone fight that was scratched due to Sadollah's leg infection. Hazelett has a better resume, having fought Josh Koscheck, Jonathan Goulet and Josh Burkman. McCrory hasn't faced that type of competition yet. Hazelett should win this. Let's go with a first-round submission.
EDITOR'S NOTE: One of our resident MMA fanatics, Matt Bishop, will recap Lesnar's big opportunity on SLAM! Wrestling after the fight tonight.