Former heavyweight champion calls it quits after TKO
But what came next at the MGM Grand Garden Arena after the UFC 141 main event, few expected. Lesnar, the former UFC heavyweight champion, announced his retirement from mixed martial arts.
“My hat’s off to Alistair Overeem,” Lesnar told Joe Rogan after the fight. “I want to take my hat off to all my training partners, my wife, my family. I’ve had a really difficult couple years with my disease, and I’m going to officially say tonight is the last time you’ll see me in the Octagon.”
Lesnar (5-3, 4-3 UFC), a former WWE champion and former NCAA wrestling champion, was the most successful fighter from the world of pro wrestling to cross over to MMA, winning the UFC heavyweight title in just his fourth career fight by stopping Randy Couture.
But two bouts with diverticulitis hampered Lesnar’s ability to train and fight over the last two years. And his fight against Overeem, the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion, was his first fight in 14 months after his second bout with the digestive disease.
Friday,Lesnar was not able to use his wrestling background to get Overeem to the ground, and instead was forced to try to trade strikes with him in the first round. A big kick to the body from Overeem pushed Lesnar backward, and he visibly grimaced and hit the canvas. Overeem pounced and worked ground and pound until the fight was stopped at 2:26 of the first round.
“I want to thank everybody,” Lesnar said. “(UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo) Fertittas, (UFC president) Dana White. I’m officially retired. I promised my wife and kids if I won this fight, I’d make one last shot at the title and then retire. But … Alistair, it was a pleasure.”
Overeem, one of the most decorated strikers in MMA history, went to his bread and butter against Lesnar, and it paid off.
“Today was all about bad intentions. First or second round, I promised,” Overeem said. “That’s an old K-1 body kick. I trained takedown defense a lot. Brock is an excellent wrestler, so I had to take up my game. Junior dos Santos is next. I promise you guys.”
With the win, Overeem gets a title shot against UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, who won the title against Cain Velasquez last month. Velasquez had beaten Lesnar at UFC 121 13 months before that.
White said after the fight he was surprised Lesnar retired and didn’t know it was coming.
“I had no idea he was going to do that,” White said at the post-fight press conference. “Am I surprised? No. Brock Lesnar has made a lot of money in his career and achieved a lot of things. Brock lesnar pulled me aside one night here at MGM and said he wanted to fight in the UFC, and I laughed – he had one fight. What he accomplished in such a short amount of time is amazing. It shocked me.”
White also said his pre-fight assessment of Overeem was wrong and admitted that he privately believed Lesnar would win the fight.
“I was wrong,” White said. “I said it before Alistair came into the UFC, and I thought it again Wednesday. I thought Brock Lesnar was going to beat Alistair Overeem tonight, and I was wrong. He looked damned good tonight. Brock’s fast, explosive and powerful, and I was shocked he didn’t try to shoot a double.”