July 13, 2009
After Saturday's dismantling of Frank Mir at UFC 100, Brock Lesnar seems pretty comfortable at the top of the UFC heavyweight division. Though his career in the UFC has been short, he has beaten two champions, Randy Couture and Mir, in a convincing manner. His size and strength will be a tough obstacle to overcome, but not impossible. Who can do it?
Fedor Emelianenko: If there is anyone who can take out Lesnar, it's the Russian fighter Emelianenko (pictured). He is at the top of the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound rankings for good reason. With a 30-1 record, he has beaten fighters of every size, including the 7'2" Hong Man Choi and 6'8" former UFC champion Tim Sylvia. In January, he knocked out another former UFC champion, Andrei Arlovski, in the first round. In fact, he hasn't had a fight get past the first round since a win over Mark Coleman in 2006, which lasted until the second round.
Emelianenko's biggest obstacle in beating Lesnar isn't in the cage, it's actually getting him in the cage. He is signed with rival promotion Affliction for a fight with Josh Barnett in August. Fans have wanted Fedor in the UFC for years, but contract negotiations have gone nowhere between the groups. After the fights on Saturday, Dana White said that Emelianenko will be in the UFC.
"This Fedor thing has gone on and on and on," White said in the post-UFC 100 press conference. "Eventually, Fedor's going to be here. I want Fedor. I want him to come to the UFC and everything else.
"This guy (Brock Lesnar) just won the heavyweight title, and we'll end up getting that deal done. And then we'll do Brock vs. Fedor, and it'll be a huge fight."
Assuming that the deal gets made, Emelianenko has the best shot of beating Brock Lesnar.
Shane Carwin: How can you mitigate Lesnar's size advantage? By putting him up against someone that's equally as large. That's Carwin -- all 6'3", 262 lbs. of him. His hands are so big that the 4X gloves he wears to fight need to be cut and taped to fit his hands. He can take punishment and still win, as he had a broken nose when he knocked out Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 96. Carwin is also motivated to beat Lesnar, who Carwin thought was incredibly disrespectful after his win on Saturday.
The fans are why we do this, Brock, this sport is not about fat paychecks and drama. It is about hard work and sacrifice for a shot to do what you did last night. It doesn't matter how much money you make if you can't earn your peers' respect and the respect and love of the greatest sporting fans in the world. Every autograph I give, every hand I shake I am thankful that you give me the opportunity to be a part of your world. This is the greatest sport int he world and most of the athletes in it deserve the love and respect they get and some just dont get it. From leaving the venue all the way to the Airport I have had fans of the sport ask me to take out Brock Lesnar for them.
The biggest knock against Carwin is that he is untested, but he is 11-0. He has much more experience than Lesnar. Carwin is slated to face Cain Velasquez, another exciting up-and-coming heavyweight, at UFC 104 in October. If he makes it through that fight, it wouldn't be surprising to see a matchup between Lesnar and Carwin.
Alistair Overeem: If someone of a similar size won't vex Brock, speed will. A fighter who is a champion kickboxer, can cut angles and move quickly? That might the perfect foil to Brock's wrestling and power. That fighter exists in Dutch kickboxer Alistair Overeem.
Overeem faces two problems in overcoming Lesnar. One, he is the Strikeforce heavyweight champion, is fighting for them on August 15, and contractually obligated to Strikeforce. Two, he needs to stay on his feet to be able to use high kicks, but as Lesnar showed on Saturday, his takedown is quite effective.
Bobby Lashley: Like Lesnar, Lashley is a fellow WWE veteran and collegiate wrestler. Unlike Lesnar, Lashley is taking the long and winding road to the UFC. He also has four wins, but his competition hasn't been nearly as difficult as Lesnar's. Lashley's biggest advantage is that he and Lesnar are the same size, and both have a strong wrestling background. With those two factors equal, the fight has the potential of being an all-out slugfest.
The problem with this fight is that Lashley doesn't want to fight in the UFC until he is ready to be a champion.
"When I go over there I want to be a top, top level guy," Lashley said. "I want talks of me fighting the champ when I get over there. I want them to say this guy's really good."
Lashley still has a while to go and much to learn before he can walk in and get a title shot. He will need to get a few more fights under his belt before we can see if he is truly ready for the champ.
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