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Posted: Monday August 11, 2008 3:24PM; Updated: Tuesday August 12, 2008 9:57AM
Ben Fowlkes Ben Fowlkes >
INSIDE MMA

Lesnar's here to stay ... so get used to it

Story Highlights
  • People seemed to scoff at a former pro-wrestler coming to the UFC
  • But after his performance UFC 87, Brock Lesnar proved he's the real deal
  • The UFC is planning to match Lesnar with Cheick Kongo in his next bout
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Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar (right) defeated Heath Herring by unanimous decision at UFC 87 on Saturday.
Courtesy of Zuffa
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You have to give Brock Lesnar this much: He's a man who knows how to play to his strengths. At UFC 87 on Saturday, he fell back on his amateur wrestling experience and used his size and quickness to dominate Heath Herring for three rounds.

The former pro wrestler also finished the bout by mocking "The Texas Crazy Horse" with a "ride 'em cowboy" gesture and a post-fight celebration that would make Tito Ortiz blush. Just in case there were any MMA fans who hadn't made up their mind about him yet.

This is why Lesnar is exactly what the Ultimate Fight Championship's heavyweight division needs right now.

He's still raw and he's not long on sportsmanship, but he's certainly an entertainer.

He's the man you love to hate, or the man you love to love because everyone else hates him.

He's a pro wrestling-style heel, and he can't help it. Thanks to Lesnar, watching the UFC's heavyweights is suddenly fun again.

By themselves, of course, Lesnar's antics and larger-than-life persona wouldn't be enough to earn him a solid reputation in the sport. His performance in the Octagon on Saturday certainly could, though.

Technically, he's still far from where he needs to be, but his strength and athleticism is nothing less than astounding. Watching him break down Herring -- a journeyman who's been up against the best heavyweights in the world -- it was hard not to assume Lesnar has a lengthy MMA career ahead of him.

Even UFC President Dana White was impressed as said after the fights, "I'm telling you, I'm blown away by his performance tonight. One of our guys said it looks like he's hitting him with lunch boxes. The guy is a phenomenon. I'll be honest, I didn't think he could come in here with no fights and compete at this level. He proved me wrong."

Lesnar not only showed that he could compete, but he did it, primarily, with sheer natural ability. His ground game had its share of holes, and aside from a good right hand early on, we still don't know much about his standup skills.

What we do know, though, is that he is a freakish athlete - the build of a garbage truck with the speed and agility of a Porsche. Imagine what he could be capable of when he fills up his MMA toolbox a little more. Obviously, the UFC is pondering the same thing as it plans to have him next fight Cheick Kongo -- a man who lost to Herring just a few months ago.

Lesnar passed a major test Saturday, but he still needs time to grow. And now that he's proved his viability in the cage and the box office, the UFC will want to give it to him. The fact that he's such a lightning rod only sweetens the deal.

Those who scoffed at the thought of an ex-WWE star hot-dogging it up in the Octagon had better get used to it.

 
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