The Weekly Wrap: Nov. 15 - Nov. 21

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By Jack Encarnacao Nov 22, 2008
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.

Top Story

From the moment he entered the UFC in February, Brock Lesnar has been the subject of intense curiosity, skepticism, hype and derision. And as the UFC heavyweight title was strapped around his massive waist on Nov. 15, it was clear to all that the former professional wrestling superstar would be anything but a flash in the pan.

Just two fights after Lesnar was caught in a basic kneebar by Frank Mir in his UFC debut, there were no gaping holes in his game in sight as he bested Randy Couture, one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, in fairly dominant fashion via second-round technical knockout. The UFC 91 main event, billed as “the biggest fight in UFC history,” saw Lesnar come in some 50 pounds heavier than Couture, who garnered thunderous crowd approval as he returned to the Octagon after more than a year in contractual limbo. The size and strength differential was perhaps the vastest of any in modern UFC history and proved too much to overcome for the 45-year-old hall of famer.

Lesnar landed strong knees in the first round inside what was expected to be Couture’s best position, the dirty boxing clinch, and had little trouble taking the former Olympic wrestling team alternate to the mat. Lesnar, who took the first round on all three judges’ scorecards, dropped Couture with a straight punch to a soft spot behind the champion’s ear and pounced with massive fists and elbows from side mount until referee Mario Yamasaki stepped in at 3:07. The finish was precluded by Couture landing a punch that opened a cut over Lesnar’s eye, a blow Lesnar later claimed had kicked him into another gear. It took Couture -- who told that he was not prepared for Lesnar’s reach -- more than a minute to rise to his feet after the fight. Lesnar, in an almost surreal moment, had the gold strapped around his waist 17 months after he debuted in the sport.

Jeff Sherwood/

In which division will
we see Couture in next?
Couture was gracious in defeat and garnered more cheers than ever while speaking on the microphone afterwards. Lesnar’s win could cement him as the UFC’s top pay-per-view draw, and several MMA writers framed the fight as a pivotal one in the UFC’s evolution toward becoming a mainstream sports fixture. Lesnar, who earned a cool $450,000 for the win, as well as an undisclosed cut of PPV revenue, will face the winner of the Dec. 27 Frank Mir v. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira match sometime in 2009 to create a unified heavyweight champion. Couture earned $250,000 in disclosed pay for the loss.

UFC 91, which took place before 14,272 fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, drew a $4.8 million gate, the fourth-highest in UFC history. Pay-per-view buys, the category in which UFC 91 was expected to post its most impressive numbers, were not yet available. The entire card won widespread praise as one of the UFC’s best of the year.

In the show’s co-main event, Kenny Florian owned Joe Stevenson in an incredible performance, landing hard strikes and showing superior footwork before attaining mount and a sinking a sound rear-naked choke in the first. The impact of the performance was buoyed by a post-fight interview during which Florian called out lightweight champion B.J. Penn, who was in attendance. Penn only had so much mental energy to devote to Florian, as he went on a press tour this week to promote his Jan. 31 rematch against welterweight titleholder Georges St. Pierre.

Impressive performances were the order of the night at UFC 91. Dustin Hazelett and Jeremy Stephens made the most of their respective fights against Tamdan McCrory and Rafael dos Anjos. Stephens took home an extra $60,000 “Knockout of the Night” bonus by landing a cinematic uppercut that floored Dos Anjos. Hazelett, meanwhile, took home a $60,000 “Submission of the Night” bonus for cranking McCroy’s elbow joint in a brilliant display of his jiu-jitsu skills. “Fight of the Night” payouts went to lightweights Jorge Gurgel and Aaron Riley, who punished each other for three rounds in a fast-paced kickboxing battle. Demian Maia and Gabriel Gonzaga also picked up notable wins.
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