History Tells Us No One is Unbeatable
Memento is one of my favorite movies.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, the genius who has since saved the Batman franchise from the depths of George Clooney as Bruce Wayne hell, the film revolves around Leonard Shelby and his quest to put together the pieces of his wife’s murder. What takes the film from a simple whodunit into ohmygodyouvegottaseethismovie territory is that Leonard can’t form new memories; tattoos and Polaroids help him remember what just happened, but other than that, he’s got nothing.
What does this have to do with mixed martial arts?
It seems to me that some MMA fans and media members are in need of their own tattoos and Polaroids in the wake of UFC 116.
After his victory over Shane Carwin secured Brock Lesnar the UFC heavyweight title and top spot in the divisional rankings, Lesnar also earned the “unbeatable” tag from some, a thought that is ridiculous to me given what has happened in the very recent past.
For starters, while the first round of Lesnar’s clash with Carwin shows that the former WWE superstar and collegiate wrestling champion has the heart of a lion and a damn good chin, it also shows that Lesnar is far from invincible. He’s also clearly not a fan of being punched in the face, but who can argue with that?
Yes, he came out of the between rounds break with a smile on his face and a waiting hand for Carwin, but between the opening call to fight and the bell to end the first, Lesnar was perilously close to being put away, and looked more human than we’ve seen him before.
While some are praising Josh Rosenthal’s efforts in the main event, there are those who feel like the fight should have been stopped, and maybe would have been stopped if it were not an epic encounter for championship gold. Both of those thoughts would drastically change the course of this emerging narrative.
Personally, I applaud Rosenthal for not stepping in, though I wouldn’t have questioned him if he did. More to the point of this piece, if someone – anyone – is in a position where observers are questioning whether the ref made the right call in letting the fight continue, can they really be deemed unbeatable?
Situation and circumstance plays a part in every fight; timing a takedown and executing a counter are as much a part of the result as conditioning, an ill-fated slip or in the case of Shane Carwin, a massive cardio dump that admittedly contributed to his demise. Had Carwin not experienced the “body cramps” he felt between rounds, who’s to say Lesnar would not have endured more of the same in the subsequent rounds?
I know – coulda, woulda, shoulda, but didn’t.
Still – to turn around and call someone unbeatable after they endured a 10-8 beating just two minutes earlier is a bit of a stretch to me. The proclamation is even more unrealistic when you recall the events of Saturday, June 26th, 2010. On that night, the last fighter worthy of the title “unbeatable” watched as his opponent’s arm was raised in victory.
If Fedor Emelianenko can lose, anyone can lose, no matter what your opinion of “The Last Emperor” may be. Regardless of the quality of competition he’s faced or the banner he’s been fighting under, Emelianenko put together an eight-year undefeated streak, an incredible feat that no other fighter has come close to duplicating, and no one probably ever will.
Because everyone loses.
Every great champion in the history of this sport, past and present, has been beaten at some point. It may have come early in their careers or once they were past their prime, but the fact of the matter is that somewhere along the line, everyone is forced to taste defeat.
Fabricio Werdum wasn’t expected to upset Fedor and Matt Serra wasn’t supposed to stop Georges St-Pierre, but both earned upset victories, just as someone will most likely do against Lesnar in the future.
While the athletic freak of nature has the potential to keep rattling off wins as his MMA IQ improves, history tells us that staying unbeaten from here on out is a longshot.
Don’t get me wrong, surviving Shane Carwin’s first round pummeling and winning via submission have me higher on Lesnar’s potential in the sport than ever before – and I was plenty high on him before last weekend – but in a sport where athletes are constantly evolving and all it takes is one punch to change the course of a contest, an extended run without a bump in the road really doesn’t seem feasible to me.
Lyoto Machida was expected to dominate the light heavyweight division for years to come after knocking out Rashad Evans and capturing the 205-pound title. We all know what happened there. Twice.
Every GSP has their Matt Serra, every Machida their Rua, and Lesnar is no exception. Shane Carwin came awful close to putting away the man many are now calling unbeatable, and I’m sure Cain Velasquez has a thing or two he’d like to say on the subject as well.
Maybe he will and maybe he won’t, but personally, I’d rather sit back and simply enjoy the ride than ignore the past and try to predict what the future holds.
No one is unbeatable.
After his win over Shane Carwin, check out where Brock Lesnar ranks in the debut of the Heavy MMA World MMA Rankings.