Lesnar's lottery ticket
By Kevin Iole, Yahoo Sports
June 3, 2007
There are many who would have done it more impressively than Brock Lesnar, who needed just 69 seconds to dispose of the outclassed South Korean at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
And there are many who would have beaten Lesnar himself Saturday.
But be certain of this: Lesnar is going to make a lot more money than all but a very few of the finest mixed martial artists in the world after his showing against Kim on a pay-per-view card.
He had the act down. That much we knew from his days as a WWE champion. Lesnar was "the next big thing" during his pro wrestling career and could have been one of the most popular wrestlers in that company's history had he stuck with it.
To compete on Saturday's card at the Coliseum, Lesnar signed a one-bout contract with K1/Hero's. However, it's hard to imagine that he'll stay with that company considering how amateurishly it ran the show.
Every serious MMA promoter – from the UFC and Pride on down – will be bidding on his services, as Lesnar clearly was aware seconds after pummeling Kim.
Early in the fight, Kim tried a low kick, which Lesnar caught. Lesnar used the leg to take Kim down and was quickly in his half-guard, needing only a handful of seconds to move to full mount. He then ripped away with punches to the side of Kim's head before Kim tapped his submission.
Kim is fortunate that Saturday's rules precluded forearms and elbows, as are permitted in the unified MMA rules, or he would have suffered serious damage.
"I want to keep fighting and, I don't know, but we'll see what happens," Lesnar said. "We'll see what promoter wants to step up and hand out some money and get some heavyweight titles on the line."
The only problem with Lesnar landing in the UFC is that he's going to cost more than a number of its established stars. With only one MMA win on his record, Lesnar would be hard-pressed to get paid more than, say, Antonio Rodrigo Noguera, a former Pride champion who, at 31, remains one of the game's best.
UFC president Dana White isn't going to want to upset his salary structure by giving an unproven fighter a huge contract. But Lesnar has the ability to do the one thing that will earn a fighter a fat paycheck: He can sell tickets. (Though the Coliseum was virtually empty – promoters tried to give away 70,000 tickets and still were unsuccessful – that had more to do with the ineptitude of K1/Hero's, not Lesnar.)
Lesnar was supposed to fight 7-foot-2, 400-pound South Korean Hong Man Choi, but Choi failed the California Athletic Commission's physical reportedly because of a tumor on the pituitary gland and didn't get licensed.
"I was disappointed I couldn't fight the big-headed guy," said Lesnar, nodding in Choi's direction.
Lesnar's years in the WWE taught him how to sell a fight, but he showed on Saturday that, in time, he'll be a more than an acceptable professional mixed martial artist. He trains with a good team at the Minnesota Mixed Martial Arts Academy, and he has the athletic ability to make the transition.
Though Kim was hardly a quality opponent, Lesnar showed exceptional quickness for a man weighing 262 pounds and being as thick as he is. And he showed the kind of aggression American fight fans demand.
The crowd booed lustily throughout the Royce Gracie-Kazushi Sakuraba match, which Gracie won by unanimous decision. The bout was a technical affair with few strikes, and that clearly angered the fans.
Lesnar obviously got the message because he was ready to fight during the referee's instructions. As ref Steve Mazzagatti was talking to the two fighters just before the bell rang, Lesnar stuck his forehead against Kim's and began to snarl. Kim began to melt at that point, which was his highlight for the night.
Lesnar fought with a controlled fury, unlike former NFL wide receiver Johnnie Morton, who also made his MMA debut on Saturday. Morton roared out of his corner at the opening bell of his fight with Bernard Ackah, but he looked amateurish throwing wild shots and was clearly out of control. Just 38 seconds into the bout, Morton was knocked cold when he ran into an Ackah right and had to be transported from the ring on a stretcher.
Lesnar was as aggressive as he could be while keeping his fundamentals. He's nowhere near the elite heavyweights such as Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture and Mirko Cro Cop, but he'd be like a lottery pick for any promoter who signed him and could give him time to develop.
Watch the UFC make a heavy play for Lesnar. The UFC, which has also been talking with another former WWE star, Kurt Angle, has the money to get Lesnar, the opponents to allow him to develop and the platform to make him a star. Pro Elite, which was a co-promoter of Saturday's card, is well-funded and undoubtedly will make a run at him, too.
So Lesnar made himself a lot of money in those 69 seconds Saturday night. He's soon to become a familiar face in MMA.
Updated on Sunday, Jun 3, 2007 4:52 am, EDT