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LESNAR FLASHBACK: Brock Lesnar loses UFC debut five years ago; which WWE stars were shown ringside?

Feb 4, 2013 - 3:10:36 PM
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PWTorch Newsletter Cover Story Flashback - 5 years ago
Brock Lesnar Loses UFC Debut (02/02/08)
By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


HEADLINE ANALYSIS cover story from PWTorch Newsletter #1010...

Brock Lesnar lost his UFC debut in just one minute, thirty-seven seconds by tapout. It seemed longer than that, as a lot happened.

Lesnar tackled Mir to the mat in the opening seconds and pounded him with a barrage of "wrestler blows" - the type of punches MMA fighters who come from wrestling backgrounds have tended to throw over the last decade or so. The type of blows that can end a fight through quantity, not quality, while they have the opponent smothered on the mat with their wrestling skills.

In the uncontrolled barrage of hammering blows to an overwhelmed Mir, Lesnar hit Mir on the back of the head. That is one of the few rules in UFC fights that are included for the safety of the fighters, so the ref stopped the fight. The crowd immediately booed, thinking Lesnar was being declared the winner. That would have been hugely controversial since Mir wasn't hurt at that point, just overwhelmed and waiting it out.

Instead, the ref announced that Lesnar was deducted a point for the blow and then he stood the fighters up to restart. That also would have been controversial had the fight gone to a decision and Lesnar lost on points because of that. There were two blows to the back of Mir's head, so technically the ref was right, but it was not flagrant or damaging looking, something he could have looked past or just issued a warning on.

The fight was restarted and Mir went for a kick. Lesnar punched back and took Mir down. Mir went for an armbar, Lesnar escaped. Then Lesnar went into more frenetic, uncontrolled, aggressive punches and elbows. Mir went for another armbar, clearly sensing Lesnar was leaving him some openings during his frenzied attack. When Lesnar tried to stand up, Mir grabbed his leg. Lesnar, as a reflection of his training, tried to immediately yank his leg away. Mir, as a reflection of his training, cinched it on hard and didn't let go. A couple seconds later, Lesnar tapped to a kneebar, reminiscent of a finisher Kurt Angle might use.

The pro-UFC crowd popped for Mir's win, a dream finish for those who think a former pro wrestler has no business - no matter what his previous background - being put in a big fight this soon in the UFC. It showed that Lesnar was vulnerable, if not undisciplined in his attack. Mir, a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, is known for his submission skills, plus good striking ability. What was in question was whether he was as dedicated and serious now, after a serious motorcycle accident a few years ago derailed his career, as he was when he was champion. Mir had a lot of pressure to not let the hardcore MMA community down, and he didn't. While he looked overwhelmed by Lesnar's power and takedown skills, and he easily could have lost that fight had Lesnar been a bit more precise and disciplined in his ground attack, he also had the big edge in Octagon experience. That cannot be underestimated, no matter how hard and for how long and for whom Lesnar trained with.

Lesnar smiled afterward, accepting the loss. He said you win some and lose some, and he prefers to win them all, but he'll be back.

"I'm focusing on my submission game," Lesnar said in his hometown paper, City Pages, before the fight. "And learning how to defend against arm locks and leg locks."

Lesnar, who had one previous MMA fight outside of the UFC, entered the Octagon with a lot of hype. Would he be The Next Big Thing in the UFC like he was in WWE?

Losing the way he did, he didn't lose any steam. Except for those who thought he'd blow through Mir and Tim Sylvia and whomever else UFC President Dana White put in front of him until he won the World Heavyweight Title. ("Minoutauro" Nogueira beat Sylvia later in the night to win the World Title in a similar storyline as Mir's win over Lesnar - he took a beating and then slipped on a submission when he was given the opening.)

Lesnar was good in the marketing of the fight, playing into his role as a heel outsider from the fake pro wrestling world. UFC didn't participate in reinforcing that image, as White and announcer Joe Rogan and Lesnar himself, among others, stressed his amateur success as an NCAA wrestling champion before he went to the WWF.

Lesnar looked like a monster in the Octagon, a blend of Tank Abbott, Vitor Belfort, and Mark Coleman early in their careers. He has a chance to be better than all three in a short period of time. Few fighters, even with world class credentials and dozens of big fights, do well in their Octagon debuts (Anderson Silva being the one recent and most notable exception.)

Lesnar vs. Tim Silvia seems like a natural next match. Both lost their fights in similar ways. They are fighting for respect despite having taken very different paths. Silvia is just 16 months older than Lesnar. The winner would be at most one more big win away from a title shot.

Lesnar looked respectable and formidable. His loss may buy him some respect from MMA fans who won't think he was handed a cheap win early to shoot him to the top to try to sell PPV buys.

Lesnar had support at ringside, as Steve Austin, Undertaker, and Kurt Angle were all shown on camera sitting ringside - a bit ironic considering Lesnar said in the pregame show that when he was in the WWF, everything was fake, including his friendships. They also showed his wife, Rena Lesnar (formerly "Sable," Rena Mero).

[Torch art credit Travis Beaven (c) PWTorch.com]


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