A day after Heavy.com reported the news that Brock Lesnar would not be fighting Shane Carwin at UFC 108 on January 2nd in Las Vegas, ESPN ran with the news as a lead story on their news ticker. If fans hadn’t heard about Lesnar not fighting on November 21st in Las Vegas, then they found out that for sure that he wouldn’t be fighting any time soon.
There are a lot who aren’t fans who are scared that Lesnar isn’t going to be fighting. There’s good reason for these fans to worry about Lesnar and his physical state. However, it’s his mental state that should worry everyone much more so in the long run.
Lesnar is known for being successful at one thing and then decided to quit and move on. He gets bored, he gets disinterested, and he always needs a new challenge. When wrestling for WWE, Lesnar got tired of the lifestyle and road schedule and ended up burning his bridge with the company. He and Bill Goldberg managed to have an ugly Wrestlemania moment at WM 20 at Madison Square Garden with fans booing them out of the building. Lesnar ended up in a protracted legal war with WWE to try to get out of his contract and wrestle somewhere else. Eventually he and WWE settled and Lesnar would wrestle again later on.
Brock then tried out for the Minnesota Vikings. The coaching staff told him that if he pursued the job past training camp and accepted a minor role on the team that eventually he could grow into a starter. Not achieving starter status, Lesnar gave up on his dream of being an NFL player immediately and ended up working with Antonio Inoki and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Inoki brought the monster in to become IWGP champion in October of 2003 at the Tokyo Dome in maybe the company’s worst paid gate ever at the building.
Hopes were high for Lesnar being the champion, but all he did was show up the day before an event, take photos at Narita Airport, show up to the venue he was wrestling at, wrestle the same 8-minute formulaic match, and then go home. He showed little fighting spirit or creativity. There were reports that Lesnar was unhappy with having to make long trips from Minneapolis to Tokyo. When it was time for Lesnar to do a clean job and work an original match with New Japan ace Hiroshi Tanahashi, Lesnar didn’t show up. He was stripped of the IWGP title and embarrassed the company. He had destroyed every top Japanese worker in the promotion and when it was time for him to have a competitive match, Lesnar didn’t show up.
When Lesnar eventually surfaced in UFC, he got the same reaction from fans and promoters that he’s always gotten from people in wrestling and other sports. People are enamored with him. He’s huge, he’s scary, and he always provokes a reaction out of you. You want to mark out for him and trust him and do business with him, but you realize that you are essentially selling your soul to the devil if you do so. He always burns a bridge and he doesn’t care because he knows that there will always be another sugar daddy waiting for him to pay him a lot of money to do whatever tickles his fancy at that moment in time.
Which is why the news of Lesnar taking significant time off should make people in UFC very nervous. The reported reason for Lesnar’s prolonged absence is that he is suffering not from the swine flu but from mono and that he can’t train. The illness will keep Lesnar on the sidelines for at least a month before he can resume training. There are already doubts about Lesnar as UFC champion and he only has 5 professional fights under his belt. He’s UFC’s biggest star (Georges St. Pierre is #2) and the promotion can’t afford to lose him.
That’s what happens when you put all of your eggs into his basket. He sells millions of PPV buys and is a huge name. He will always have a fan base with him no matter where he goes, which is why Brock Lesnar is doubly dangerous for any promoter to book long-term. Even when he has a legitimate reason for not showing up (like an illness), it always creeps up in the back of your head about whether or not he has any loyalty left to you or is interested in continuing doing what he is doing at the current time.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that he could be scared of a Division II wrestler.
Zach Arnold has studied the business of MMA, especially in Japan, as closely as anyone on the planet. You can find his news and analysis at Fight Opinion.