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COMMENT





Lesnar captures UFC title
By MATT BISHOP - SLAM! Wrestling




One booming right hand to the temple and some follow-up strikes on the ground later, former WWE Champion Brock Lesnarís switch to mixed martial arts had undoubtedly become a success.

With his second round TKO of Randy Couture at UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Lesnar becomes the first man to have held both the WWE and UFC heavyweight titles.

With the crowd decidedly in the corner of the beloved Couture, Lesnar, the 2000 NCAA National Champion in the heavyweight division at Minnesota, took Couture down in the first round but could not keep him there. He changed up his game plan in the second round and hurt the 5-time champion on the feet, despite being cut slightly under his right eye. Then Lesnar landed the decisive blow of the fight, forcing referee Mario Yamasaki to call a stop to the fight at 3:07 of the round.

"(Lesnar's brute strength) certainly didn't hurt," WWE Smackdown play-by-play voice Jim Ross told SLAM! Wrestling on Sunday night. "Lesnar not only had the strength advantage but demonstrated great leverage. Brock is an amazingly gifted athlete who may fear losing more than he enjoys winning. Couture giving up over 50 pounds was going to be problematic all along."

Lesnar was respectful and humble after the fight, hugging wife Rena (formerly Sable) inside the cage before having the belt wrapped around his waist by UFC President Dana White.

"It sounds really good," Lesnar said after being introduced as the new heavyweight champion. "I can't believe it.

"I just believe in hard work and it pays off."

In the end, Lesnar proved to be too big for Couture, according to Ross, who added he loved the atmosphere and passion displayed by the fans during the fight.

"Inside the Octagon it was Lesnar's size advantage which was so obvious when the two locked up that really jumped off the TV screen," Ross said.

With the win, Lesnar can arguably be called the greatest former North American professional wrestler to enter MMA despite just completing his fourth professional fight.

Both Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock are in the UFC Hall of Fame and held the UFC Superfight Championship (the predecessor to the heavyweight title), but in beating a multiple title champion in Couture (not to mention someone already in the UFC Hall of Fame), Lesnar has already etched his name for good in the UFCís record books.

The fight was just Lesnarís third inside the Octagon and fourth overall. Heís now 2-1 in the UFC and now looks forward to unifying the heavyweight championship.

UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will meet Frank Mir on Dec. 27 at UFC 92 in Las Vegas to determine who will move on to face Lesnar for the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Championship. That fight will more than likely happen in late spring or early summer 2009.

Mir and Lesnar already have a history, as Mir dealt Lesnar his first (and only) MMA loss in February with a first round submission in Lesnarís first UFC fight.

Should Lesnar meet and defeat Nogueira, it will mark one of the greatest two fight stretches in MMA history, as Couture and Nogueira are legendary figures in the sport.

Regardless of the outcome of that fight, in defeating a legend in Couture, Lesnar has left his mark in yet another sport.

-- with files from Associated Press

RELATED LINKS

  • September 27, 2008: Fight of life for Brock
  • Brock Lesnar bio and story archive

    E-mail Matt at bishop20@msu.edu. Please include your name and hometown. And if you're interested in mixed martial arts, check out Matt's weekly podcast -- Lights Out Radio. Should be a good one!.