One of the most intimidating athletes of all time, Brock Lesnar can do it all. The NCAA National Wrestling Champion dominated all aspects of competition before joining the pro wrestling world. “The Next Big Thing” in WWE, Lesnar (5-3, 1NC) went on to compete in MMA after winning multiple titles for Vince McMahon. He may have had a short career inside the octagon, but it was filled with wild moments.
This weekend, Lesnar is set to defend the WWE Championship against Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 36. In the spirit of the weekend, ESPN2 will be airing a marathon of Brock Lesnar’s UFC matches. Before the former UFC Heavyweight Champion enters a WWE ring, let’s look back at some of his highlights in a UFC octagon.
Rematch With Frank Mir (UFC 100)
The first time Lesnar and Mir fought at UFC 81, it was Lesnar’s UFC debut. Known as a monster beforehand and his dominant win over Min-Soo Kim over at FEG, Lesnar went to the UFC and immediately faced stiff competition. With a rivalry coming out of nowhere, Mir and Lesnar created an enticing story. Unfortunately, Lesnar was not ready and lost to Mir via kneebar.
The rematch saw a different side to Lesnar. At this point UFC Heavyweight Champion, Lesnar came into this bout matured and not as wild. What ended up taking place was a slow mauling. Lesnar was patient; he put Mir down but didn’t swing him down right away. With chest on chest action, Lesnar would not let Mir breath. In the second round Lesnar was toying with Mir, and while Mir hit him with a knee, Lesnar recovered well and then took him down again. A barrage of shots ended the fight and gave Lesnar some form of closure.
Return v. Mark Hunt (UFC 200)
While the bout he won was overturned due to a failed drug test, Lesnar’s first UFC fight in over five years has to be included on this list. He was also employed with WWE at the time. Facing a killer in Mark Hunt, the Lesnar hype train was back on.
Lesnar, who had already won the WWE Championship in his return to WWE, believed he was ready to dominate both sports. “The Beast Incarnate” beat Hunt via unanimous decision after dropping Hunt several times. It was a side of Brock that MMA fans missed, as he was brutal with his strikes and accurate with his takedowns. Before getting overturned, Lesnar’s win gave him some leeway with the UFC and WWE. He ended up using it when facing Randy Orton at Summerslam in a shoot-style bout.
The 2016 Summer of Brock was something to behold.
Confronting Daniel Cormier (UFC 226)
Was it cheesy? Yes. Did it feel like it was scripted? Yes. Did you enjoy every minute of it? Yes.
Before Lesnar retired from MMA action for the final time, he decided to stir things up. Meeting with Dana White while still employed by WWE, the UFC was planning on a special showdown with Lesnar and the winner of Stipe Miocic v. Daniel Cormier. At first, the favorite bout would have been Miocic v. Lesnar, but Cormier changed that after knocking out Miocic in the first round.
Lesnar appearing out of nowhere before the fight shocked the crowd, creating a buzz. After Cormier’s win, he called out Lesnar who jumped into the octagon and pushed Cormier. While it was something out of the WWE playbook, just for a brief moment it looked like we were getting vintage Lesnar back.
After being nearly finished in the 1st round,
Brock Lesnar comes back & submits Shane Carwin to keep his UFC Heavyweight title pic.twitter.com/2bngwnqQTB
— MMA History Today (@MMAHistoryToday) July 3, 2019
Comeback against Carwin (UFC 116)
With injuries and illnesses derailing his career, Lesnar needed to prove he was the real deal and a champion the UFC could be proud of. He faced Shane Carwin, who beat Mir for the interim UFC Heavyweight Championship a few months before at UFC 111. One of the main things to point out is that in 12 fights before the Lesnar one, Carwin never went past the first round. In fact, he never made it to four minutes.
That didn’t appear to stop Carwin, who hit Lesnar early and often in the first few minutes. He started pummeling away at Lesnar, hitting some vicious knees and strikes. The referee did not end the fight right away, and Carwin was tiring himself out beating over a bloody Lesnar. Lesnar finally got to his feet after two minutes on the ground, recovering from the damage that was inflicted. It would be the last that was ever given to him, as Brock took Carwin down in the second and started pounding at the body. Not letting Carwin breath this time, Brock applied an arm-triangle submission for the win.
The first true test for Lesnar was one to marvel at, as he survived and attacked like a hungry lion.
11 years ago today, Brock Lesnar stopped Randy Couture to become UFC heavyweight champion after just four fights 😳🏆 pic.twitter.com/mSYc9UTNrp
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) November 15, 2019
Knockout Of Couture, Winning UFC Gold (UFC 91)
Four fights into his MMA career, Lesnar went for gold. He faced off against MMA legend Randy Couture and proved he wasn’t just a pro wrestler.
Lesnar took down the former multi-divisional champion with a double-leg early on, but Couture was able to come out of it unscathed. Couture reversed several moves, with Lesnar’s size advantage not helping him much to start.
It wasn’t until the second that Lesnar’s strikes were landing. He hit a huge elbow that wobbled Couture, but Randy fired back with a right that cut Lesnar. Lesnar decided he had enough and landed a huge right that dropped Couture down. Once he started pounding away with hammer fists, it was inevitable. Lesnar won gold in front of a rapid fanbase, securing his legacy.
While with the UFC, Lesnar was a box office draw. Five of his eight UFC fights reached over 1,000,000 buys, his highest (1,300,000) against Mir in the rematch. While his career didn’t end as fondly as he wanted it to, Lesnar ended up reaching the top of the mountain, ending all doubt and proving he was truly one of a kind.