The UFC Hall of Fame recognizes the most important figures in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, beginning in 2003 there have only been eight men awarded the ten-pound piece of glass validating their life’s work.
Brock Lesnar is a once-in-a-generation style athlete, the Minnesota native had a certain level of magnetism that drew eyeballs years before he graced a professional wresting ring – Lesnar was a four-time All-American collegiate wrestler and national champion racking up a collegiate record of 106-5.
Despite being a prime candidate to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States at the 2000 games in Sydney, he was recruited into the scripted soap opera world of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) where he would become one of their biggest stars.
The behemoth was the WWE’s top dog within months of his debut on television being unbeaten for the first eight months of his career, during his three-year stint in professional wrestling he racked up just about every accolade he could pinning most of the biggest names shoulders to the mat.
After a major falling out with promotional owner Vince McMahon, Lesnar walked away from the company resulting in a long-running legal battle that made most presume both parties would never do business together again.
Despite the toll that a 300-plus day schedule took on the body of Lesnar, who was struggling with an addiction to vikodin, he wasted no time pursuing a career in the NFL.
Even though the freak athlete had never really picked up a ball, he impressed with his combination of speed and power with a 4.7 second 40-yard dash time but he didn’t deliver the goods in his few preseason runs with the Minnesota Vikings and was later cut.
When most presumed that he was just a broken down, beat up man seeking a pay check he moved over to the world of mixed martial arts – Making his professional debut obliterating 6-foot-3 Korean judoka Min Soo-Kim which would serve as the only easy fight of his career and his only fight outside of the elite 265-pound jungle.
Most scoffed at UFC figurehead Dana White taking a chance on a 1-0 ex- WWE wrestler but he got the chance to step into the cage with former champion Frank Mir on his first trip to the octagon. The submission stylist took a beating from Lesnar early before latching onto a knee bar to revitalize his career.
The loss to Frank Mir would be the last time he would taste defeat for over two years, in his next four outings he dominated former Pride heavyweight title challenger Heath Herring before finishing Randy Couture, Shane Carwin and avenging his lone career setback giving Mir the beating of a lifetime.
Along that journey he captured the top crown in the land of the giants holding it for a record 707 days and defending it on two occasions, a record that he shares with promotional heavyweight greats in Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski.
Bouts with diverticulitis coupled with recurring illnesses and surgeries would ultimately signal the demise of the champion with back-to-back defeats to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem that forced him to hang up his gloves.
Now that Lesnar has inked a one-year deal with a lot of zero’s on it to make a return to the WWE and at 34-years-of-age it’s all but set in stone that Lesnar will never step foot in a real fighting circle again. So the question is, has he done enough to join the elite-class in the UFC hall of fame? Absolutely.
The big knock against him joining the class is that despite his impressive resume he fought less than ten times with a less-than-flattering 5-3 record but you cannot deny the impact that he had on this industry.
Was it a coincidence that when Lesnar joined the organization business took off? Although The Ultimate Fighter will always be credited for turning the corner for the organization and rightfully so, the star-power of Lesnar pushed it over the top.
Whether hardcore fanatics like to admit it or not, the MMA community is plagued with pro wrestling fans and his name value put on a pay-per-view poster sold, in fact he cracked the one-million buys ceiling on three separate occasions, a feat that nobody has even come close to.
The limited time that he spent in the sport doesn’t take away from his accomplishments, Nirvana only put out three records over seven years but does that change the impact that Kurt Cobain had on the music industry?
‘Smells like teen spirit’ was the soundtrack of the nineties and when Nevermind hit the airwaves it changed the mainstream music from hair-metal bands to the influence of grunge, Lesnar had the same type of impact on the MMA industry.
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