Brock Lesnar, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's heavyweight champion, still is not healthy enough to train, his coach said on Monday.
Greg Nelson of the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy said Lesnar's illness is real and that his withdrawal from his match against Shane Carwin, which was set to be the main event of UFC 106 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Nov. 21, was because he could not train hard enough.
Doubt has surrounded Lesnar's decision to postpone the bout since a video of his appearance at an NFL game surfaced on the Internet. Lesnar did not look flu-stricken in the video, prompting speculation his withdrawal was related to reasons other than illness. Nelson, though, insisted the decision is simply because Lesnar would get fatigued quickly and could not push hard in training.
"I'm not sure exactly what it is he has, mono or whatever, but I know that he was sick and couldn't get a good, hard workout in," Nelson said. "There's a big difference between making an appearance and smiling and waving at a football game and going out and doing what he has to do in his training."
The bout has not been rescheduled, though it is targeted for Jan. 2 at UFC 108 in Las Vegas. However, if Lesnar is unable to resume training soon, he likely will not be able to make that date and it would have to be pushed back into February.
With that, I'll get to your questions and comments, but I'd also like to remind you to follow me on Twitter.
Are Goldie and Rogan to blame?
Do you think there was an intentional bias to push Mauricio "Shogun" Rua by the UFC announcers, Mike Goldberg and, more particularly, Joe Rogan? If you just listened to Shogun's light heavyweight title fight against Lyoto Machida at UFC 104 on Oct. 24 without watching it, you would have thought it was a blowout. In fact, when I watched it, I thought that they were calling a different fight. The announcers seemed to be howling about Rua's counters, usually kicks, ignoring the fact that Machida had just punched him in the face. Though I was rooting for Machida and was surprised by the decision – I thought it was 2-2 going into the last round which Rua eked out – the way it was called would suggest that the results should have be 50-45 or, at best, 49-46.
I think they called the fight the way they saw it, but I also think their call did influence many fans on the scoring. For the millionth time, this was a close fight that could have gone either way. Period. End of story. It's a difficult job to call a fight and they're switching from watching the action live to glancing at their monitor. Where a fighter is in the cage has an impact on what they can see and what they see. They have a director talking to them in their ear. There are a lot of factors. I think they called the fight honestly, but I agree that at several points, they called Rua for connecting with shots when Machida landed a shot that was at least as good, if not better. They have a difficult job and I think they did it well. And for the record, Machida has plenty of charisma and is a funny guy when you get a chance to speak to him privately. I think as he gets more comfortable with English, this is going to become more apparent.
Explanation for the outrage
Kevin, in your last mailbag, you stated how you were surprised at all the outrage following the Machida-Rua fight. Well, I think in context of that fight, it's easily understandable. While I enjoy technical striking and technical grappling, most mixed martial arts fans prefer slugfests and ground and pound. I enjoy both of these, but if you noticed during the fight how the fans in the audience booed many times and were appeased whenever action occurred, Rua was the one usually pushing that action. Rua for the majority of the fight was the aggressor with his leg kicks, body kicks, and even charged at Machida a few times to land some punches. Taking all of this into account easily shows why so many fans were justifiably angry about the decision because they felt Rua both did more damage and controlled the fight more, as well as pushed the action they so craved.
That may be as good an explanation as any, Andrew. But still, no matter how you look at it, this was not a highway robbery and this is coming from a guy who feels Rua won. To me, a highway robbery is what happened to Lennox Lewis in his first fight with Evander Holyfield in 1999. There should have been outrage over that. This was a close fight that could have gone either way.
Lesnar's withdrawal still controversial
I read your recent mailbag about Lesnar pulling out of the Carwin fight due to illness. I have seen the video of him at the Vikings-Ravens' game and you are right that he doesn't appear ill. However, I'll take the man's word for it. But I would like you to press UFC president Dana White further on why Lesnar feels he may not be able to fight on Jan. 2, either. This is troubling and needs addressed. I have to wonder if Brock is having second thoughts about stepping in the cage with a man his same size, with similar wrestling abilities, but who in my opinion a far superior striker with more experience. I know Brock loves that belt. Could this be a situation like when Tito Ortiz dodged Chuck Liddell? I hope the UFC won't allow him to duck this fight for two years.
Matt, as you saw above, Lesnar still hasn't resumed training and there is no secret reason he pulled out of the fight other than that he is sick. But the reason I posted your question despite Greg Nelson's explanation above is that a lot of fans are writing in expressing the opinion that the UFC is protecting Lesnar. This is ludicrous.. I'm sure if Dana would admit it, he'd rather have Lesnar defeat Carwin because Lesnar is the company's biggest draw and would get even bigger if he were to beat a man of Carwin's skills. The UFC makes no money off of Lesnar sitting at home. And while they make money if he fights second-tier guys, the real money comes when he's fighting top-rated, legitimate challengers like Carwin. It's in the UFC's interest to have the fight come off. They are in no way trying to protect him.
Impact on Silva-Belfort
You had mentioned in a previous article that the Carwin-Lesnar title fight might be rescheduled for Jan. 2. Where does this leave the Vitor Belfort-Anderson Silva fight for the UFC's middleweight title? If Silva proves healthy enough to be cleared for the fight, would the UFC ever consider putting both fights on the UFC 108 card?
Silva still hasn't been cleared and it's looking increasingly unlikely he will be in time to fight on Jan. 2. The UFC has many problems with injuries and my guess is – and it's just an educated guess – that Silva-Belfort will move to Feb. 6. In many cases, the UFC would put the two fights on the same card, but with the troubles they're having getting main event-type fights, that may precipitate splitting them.
Is UFC overexposed?
I hate this question but it has to be asked with UFC 106's issues. Do you think with the economy the way it is that the UFC is overexposing itself? I mean do we really every month and sometimes twice a month need a show? The talent pool isn't that deep. I love it as a fan, to a degree that is, because I don't have the dough to drop $45 every time there is a show. So I have two options: Get buddies together, which because of life doesn't always work or go to a bar, and since I don't drink, that is an adventure. I can tell you when the UFC came to Dallas, I didn't even think about going until Vitor signed on, then only if I got free tickets. Do you think the overexposure of MMA is here?
I don't think the sport is overexposed, but I do think the UFC is running too many shows. When they have injuries such as they do and then there are issues like Quinton "Rampage" Jackson doing his movie, it makes it very hard to put the kind of cards together that the brass wants. I'd like to see them cut back by two or three cards a year, but as much as matchmaker Joe Silva might love that, I don't see it happening any time soon.
Quality – or lack thereof – of TUF 10
What do you think of the quality of the fights on this season of "The Ultimate Fighter?" I have been totally disgusted by two fights in particular: James McSweeney-Wes Shivers and Scott Junk-Matt Mitrione. I know this season has been a ratings monster, but aside from being pleased with the number of viewers, Dana White and the UFC brass can't be pleased with these fights. I know this is a business and ratings mean money, and those extra viewers will most likely wind up following the sport, which also means more money. However, is it not also bad to have so many viewers watch two fighters make a mockery of MMA as a sport and the UFC as a company?
I think the season has been horrible from a fighting standpoint. There hasn't been one fight that I've said, "Wow!" Well, at least not in a good way. I've been interested largely because of Kimbo Slice's personality and, to a lesser degree, Marcus Jones and Mitrione. But the fights are awful and the fact that these guys have gassed out as badly as they have is atrocious.