Brock Lesnar Leaving the UFC Would Be a Brutal Hit to MMA
You could be the most anti-Brock Lesnar fan in the world, and yet, you'd probably still be unable to deny what the man has done for MMA in the two years that he's been a pro.
UFC mainstays, including UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock, Dan "The Beast" Severn and early UFC standout Paul "The Polar Bear" Varelans, have made the crossover in the past from the UFC to Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment, but before Brock Lesnar arrived in the WWE, nobody had made a successful transition from the then-WWF to the UFC.
The late Tony Halme, known to classic WWE fans as "The Hellraiser from Helsinki" Ludvig Borga, made the attempt to become a bit of a legitimate name in MMA after retiring from Professional Wrestling in 1997, but a look at his record would easily put him in the same boat as James Toney in today's age.
Seriously, they both only have a quick first-round submission loss on their record—as their only MMA fight, no less—and that lone loss on both of their records is one you can pin on Randy Couture.
In essence, Lesnar was making history when he opted to take a fight with Heath Herring rather than bow out of MMA after tapping out to Frank Mir, and he also made history when he stopped Randy Couture at UFC 91.
No WWE guy can claim to have been WWE Champion, parted ways with Vinnie Mac & Co., signed with the UFC and beaten The Natural in the cage for the Heavyweight belt.
Shamrock was Intercontinental Champ before he went back to the UFC, and Varelans can say he stepped in the ring with Peter "Taz" Senerchia, but neither of them can say they beat Randy Couture in the cage and became UFC Heavyweight Champion in their fourth fight.
The fact is that this hulk of a man has done something that few UFC champions have been able to do since Couture, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell were the guys that ran the show in the UFC:
Like Lesnar or hate Lesnar, but Lesnar has drawn the attention of casual spectators towards Mixed Martial Arts.
He's shown that you never put anything past a guy that worked for Vince McMahon as far as being "real," because if you believe they can't really hit and make it hurt, then they'll force-feed you crow until you believe them.
The fight with Couture came and went, and then Lesnar had his score to settle with Frank Mir—which he did.
We all know how that turned out, as well as what Brock Lesnar's
were after the fight.
The Shane Carwin bout, originally the UFC 106 headliner, was put on the shelf for what seemed like "indefinitely" due to the bout Lesnar would have with diverticulitis.
"To each his own" is all I'll say about Lesnar's bout with Carwin and the UFC 121 bout with Cain Velasquez, as everyone has their own views on those fights.
Fast forward to now, and the reports of Lesnar supposedly on the verge of leaving the UFC and heading back to the WWE.
I'll say that, yes, even I can see how the world of MMA easily persists on and evolves without him, but whether we admit it or not, there's one bit of a downside to Lesnar leaving.
It all goes back to the crowds Lesnar attracted when he first joined the UFC.
When the "casual" fan of MMA took an interest in Mixed Martial Arts thanks to Lesnar's signing with the UFC, it did more than just show that a former WWE star can make it in a real sport with the right mindset.
With the wider audience tuning into the UFC to see Lesnar, buyrates varied but remained high, even if it did so slightly, and the amounts paid by the majority of those in attendance helped the UFC draw some large numbers at the live gate.
To date, Lesnar's bout with Carwin helped draw 1.16 million viewers from all across the world—all of which had the question on their mind as to whether Brock's life-threatening bout would hinder his efforts against his juggernaut of a challenger.
Should Lesnar quit the UFC? He does more than fuel the argument that he's a quitter.
With him will go a large percentage of casual viewers that were attracted to the UFC because Lesnar was there, whether he had the belt or not.
Can they develop another Heavyweight to draw more than Lesnar ever could?
Of course they could—it's MMA, after all.
Even still though, if Lesnar leaves, Mixed Martial Arts loses arguably one of their most polarizing figures in recent years.
Lose one polarizing figure, and it'll be a long time before another person will bring the crowds back to the cage.