Brock Lesnar Humiliation Makes Case for Boxing
by Paul Magno on October 28, 2010

For a different perspective, read Will Cooling’s argument that Boxing’s heavyweight humiliation makes case for MMA

When Cain Velasquez pummeled and humiliated Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 last Saturday, he also unintentionally notched a huge point in favor of boxing in the ongoing virtual war between MMA and boxing.

It was an easy fight to view and analyze, even for a relative stranger to the sport of MMA and to the UFC brand.

Lesnar came out fast and hard, trying to use his size, brute strength, and wrestling expertise to get Velasquez on his back and under the full weight of his massive frame.

When his opponent blocked the take downs and the actual fighting started, Lesnar was clueless.

The California native, Velasquez, pounded a panicked and exhausted Lesnar into a bloody mess and forced the referee to call an end to the fight with just under fifty seconds left in the first round.

More salient, informed points have already been made by Ryan Kennedy of Fight Hype, but what we learned from this fight, as it pertains to boxing, is that a quality boxer would really just need one skill, the ability to block a take down, in order to handle the best of the MMA crop. However, the MMA-fighter, in most instances, would need to learn an entire discipline in order to hang with boxing’s best.

Throw out the freak show of Randy Couture vs. James Toney, as it was genetically-engineered by Dana White to make boxing look bad, Velasquez-Lesnar showed us the difference between fighting and combat. When forced to dig deep down inside and come back, the UFC’s “Baddest Man on the Planet” had nothing.

Aside from the obvious and well-traveled boxer vs. MMA fighter debate, the Lesnar beating also may have further exposed some of the negative aspects of the UFC juggernaut.

The architects of the UFC brand did their best to construct a sport that would shy away from all of boxing’s perceived flaws. They wanted a fast-paced whirlwind of battle to hold the interest of even casual fans. But in turning a marathon into a 100 yard dash, they also ensured that the fans would be pretty much shielded from ever seeing the heart and soul of the fighter.

UFC fans simply don’t know what kind of warrior spirit most of their favorites have because the sport has been structured away from the long, grueling wars that have defined boxing over the last century or so. It’s easy for a skilled athlete to be tough for a couple of minutes at a time; The real test begins after exhaustion has set in and the fighter can no longer rely on pure athleticism.

It’s a sure thing that there are UFC stars just as mentally tough as Arturo Gatti or Jake LaMotta, but the fans will never be allowed to see that side of their MMA stars. The UFC bouts are designed to be short and quick, appealing to the diminishing attention span of the American public.

As a result, the fans have no idea whether a “Baddest Man on the Planet” is simply a tough-looking poser or a true warrior. In boxing, the truth always comes out and pretenders are well-exposed long before reaching superstar status.

This also points to the fact that, honestly, much of the motor power of the UFC machine is really nothing more than good, old-fashioned marketing. Cain Velasquez exposed that fact by easily peeling back the veneer of the Brock Lesnar hype machine.

The fact of the matter was that Dana White and the UFC were selling Brock Lesnar as a superstar before he had ever proven himself as a fighter. Even despite a loss in his UFC debut, Lesnar was heavily marketed and promoted right into a title victory two fights later.

Despite boxing’s problems (and there are many), we’d never see US Olympic Medalist, Deontay Wilder get to a world title without first earning his way to the top. And even if he did somehow get that shortcut to the top, you could expect him to be easily battered senseless by fighters who are actually battle-hardened veterans.

In the UFC, an untested and undeserving Brock Lesnar not only became a superstar world champ, but the figurehead of the entire company. He rolled through two defenses before finding someone who could nullify the one thing he could actually do well and he simply lacked the ability or desire to dig deep down inside when the blood started to flow.

This begs the question of whether Brock Lesnar’s rise to the top was a product of an embarrassingly shallow talent pool in the UFC roster or the overriding genius of Dana White to market an inferior product to the masses. Maybe it’s both.

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  • John Jensen

    Boxing is a combat sport. Has been since the Ancient Greeks. Wrestling and MMA, by extension, are ‘spectator’ sports. No good guys, no bad guys. Just who they ‘Are’.

    In the last 100 years, more than 1,100 fighters in sanctioned boxing events, have died IN THE RING…..During the fight. With another 1,000 or so that have died later as a consequence or direct result of a specific fight. That is about 10-12 times the number of all other deaths in spectator ‘fighting’ sports combined. So, though limited in complexity and style, boxing is far and away more dangerous as a combat sport than any other ‘spectator based’ fighting sport.

    Still, with that said, it does an injustice to the genius of MMA as a simple outlet for our common desire for a seat at the Coliseum, to belittle or denigrate MMA in the process of positioning whom they believe to be the next ‘freak of nature’. If they make a mistake, like the Romans selecting a Gladiator for the next big show, sometimes they win, sometimes they don’t. You aught to not decry Dana White for giving us a product we WANT to buy, nor should you need to demonize boxing in order to justify your attraction to stylized ‘blood sport’, simply because boxing doesn’t fulfill that same level of need for you.

    Boxing today as a combat sport is burdened with a century of really bad management, but so are many of our governments and businesses. I am sure that at some future point, we will all be watching the ‘Running Man’ in real time, and at that point, bad management of boxing, and probably MMA will be inconsequential. Hopefully, we can get to a point where responses are less vitriolic, less personal and more thought provoking.

    I don’t mind you being wrong, but I do mind you being abusive, so please just crank the decibel level down a notch.

  • Ken Burke

    I have to stick with MMA over boxing. Boxing is part of MMA as a whole, in case anyone has forgotten that.

  • Ray Panner

    I’m actually surprised that in this day and age people are still sticking to to belief that boxers are the end all, be all of fighters, as if their paycheque defines their ability as an overall combatant.

    I can confidently say this – take an MMA champion and put him in a straight-up boxing match against a champion boxer and you know what? Even with a five minute round, there’s a chance the MMA guy might get out of it if he fights smart. Tie up, clinch, do everything possible to drag the fight to a stalemate and even Mark Hominick could last a round with Floyd Mayweather. A whole fight, nope. Mark’s a good boxer but Floyd’s speed and skill would make all the difference in the long run. Unless Mark got absolutely lucky and puncher chanced Floyd somehow…

    In an MMA fight between the same two? See Couture vs. Toney for a pretty good example of MMA vs. boxing strategy in that case (even though the writer poo-poos it, that fight showed all we needed to see). Stay out of range and at first opportunity shoot for even a toe-pick single-leg and you’ll probably get the takedown. And that’s the end of the fight, I don’t care how good Floyd’s handspeed or punching power is, any MMA guy with marginal talent that puts him on his back is going to end that fight how he wants, when he wants. Floyd’s only chance would be to catch the shot when it comes in (which if I was him would be the only thing I trained for in preparation for the fight, because really, that’s all he would have) and get the flash knockout. No way would the MMA fighter let him within range without clinching or shooting. And in either case, the fight goes to the ground instantly.

    See, boxing proponents seem to always forget that the clinch isn’t broken up in MMA, that once two fighters come together it’s just another part of the game. Yeah, Floyd might be able to work something inside, but he’d have a split second to do it before he’d have to defend the takedown. Simple as that.

    And the same applies to any boxer out there. Go beyond the Toney / Couture fight – a pretty solid example of what Alistair Overeem would do to the Klitschkos or anyone top heavyweight can be see in the K1 fight he eventually lost to Badr Hari. It’s on youtube if you want to see. While it’s a kickboxing fight, Overeem – also a top-flight jiu-jitsu competitor and soon to be UFC destroyer – spent the first few minutes of the fight clinching and throwing Hadr around like the incompetent grappler he is. And it was a message, plain and simple – you might beat me here, but if this was the other sport I compete in, you’d already be done and finished.

    The only danger an MMA fighter has against a boxer is ego. Thinking they can actually stand and trade with a boxing champ is just plain suicide for any MMA fighter out there, and sadly, there are some who think they have what it takes (Tim Sylvia, thanks and good night). But, stick to the right kind of guns and keep that ego in check…

    And I do believe a comment about money was thrown out there a couple posts ago – the UFC doesn’t disclose full purses from bonuses and pay-per-view revenue and other payments to fighters. Don’t know why, but that’s the case. But it’s common knowledge that certain fighters have cleared $10 million a fight when all was said and done. It’s not the ridiculous super paydays top boxers get, but in the end the days of $100 and a beer are well behind the sport at the top level.

  • Paul Maggotno

    Paul Maggotno is indeed a true maggot. An mma hater with no true knowledge of the sport. What a maggot. :D

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