Lesnar far different from most heavyweights

He’s a very big man.

You were well aware of this, of course. But standing next to Brock Lesnar gives a true sense of just how big her really is. His 280 pounds are filled to the brim with hard-earned muscle, the kind that typically only starts to develop on farms in the Midwest where he grew up.

Lesnar’s strength is certainly his most visible asset. He’s far and away the most powerful man in mixed martial arts.

Heavyweight champions have never looked like him.

They looked like Randy Couture and Fedor Emelianenko, who’s widely considered the best fighter in the world: Men who are bigger than your average civilian, but not overwhelmingly so. Couture is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds; Emelianenko 6-foot, 230.

Lesnar, on the other hand, is so massive that it nearly borders on comical. But, it’s not just his size and strength that’s overwhelming. Lesnar, an NCAA wrestling champion in 2000, is as quick as some of MMA’s top light heavyweights. He can pummel an opponent or just dominate him on the canvas.

Heading into next Saturday’s title unification bout at UFC 100 versus Frank Mir, Lesnar is considered the prototype for the new heavyweight, just as Georges St. Pierre is thought to be the new mold for lighter fighters. Lesnar’s the reason some pundits are clamoring for a cruiserweight division, a place for people who would typically be considered a heavyweight but don’t even come close Lesnar’s size.

He may weigh in at the UFC heavyweight limit of 265 pounds, but on fight night, he’s 280 again and dominant.

They don’t want to see a repeat of the night when Lesnar, 31, faced aging heavyweight champ Randy Couture last fall. Lesnar stopped him in the second round. This was a little more than a year after his first MMA match.

Lesnar’s physical gifts are off the charts, but they’re rivaled by his ability to learn new skills.

He chose World Wrestling Entertainment after college because there was little money in mixed martial arts. Fighters were bruised and battered for a pittance, and that didn’t sound appealing in the least. He quickly became known as the best big-man performer in pro wrestling and in 2003 even main evented the biggest show in the business — WrestleMania.

The pro wrestling lifestyle eventually became too much, and Lesnar chose to leave. He’s a family man at heart, raised in the kind of throwback-farm atmosphere where family is the most important thing in the world.

Working for the WWE meant spending 300 days a year away from his wife, and that wasn’t going to work out very well for an overgrown kid who loves home more than anything in the world.

Lesnar attempted to play pro football next. He hadn’t played organized team sports since high school, but that didn’t stop him. He nearly made the Minnesota Vikings as a backup, being one of the last players cut before training camp ended.

Scott Sudwell, director of college scouting for the Vikings, came away impressed by Lesnar’s work ethic.

“He is talented,” Studwell said. “He is a good athlete. He has a history of achievement. And you know he has a work ethic.”

That work ethic enabled Lesnar to quickly grasp and excel in MMA.

He made a crucial mistake against Mir in his first UFC bout last year. Lesnar got anxious and recklessly went for the finish. Mir made him pay for that mistake, forcing him to tap out.

But Lesnar learned a great deal from that bout.

He was reserved, calm and controlling against both Heath Herring and Couture, later that same year.

The most recent word out of Lesnar’s camp is that he’s nearly impossible to submit, and he’s “basically a brown belt in jiujitsu defense.” He’s spent countless hours training submission defense.

Mir will weigh 255 pounds come fight night, but could be outweighed by 30 pounds when they enter the octagon.

And there are plenty of guys like Lesnar coming up the ranks; guys who are strong, fast, agile and skilled.

There may very well come a day where all heavyweights are guys like Brock Lesnar, and smaller fighters like Randy Couture are nothing more than a memory in the division

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