MMA Fighters & Boxing Counterparts: Part 3

Lyoto Machida & Brock Lesnar

By Jason Probst Oct 10, 2008
Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com

Machida certainly is no fan favorite.
Lyoto Machida = Gene Tunney

Like Tunney, Machida is not a fan favorite, but technically, he’s years ahead of the competition. Interestingly, like Tunney did with Dempsey, Machida had a near-disaster down the home stretch in his bout with Tito Ortiz (our figurative Jack Dempsey here). He fell into a threatening triangle choke in the final moments of the fight before recovering and cruising to a one-sided decision win.

Perhaps it’s because we’re used to explosive light heavies like Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson, but the unbeaten Machida’s hit-and-move style subjects him to a lot more criticism than he deserves. Tunney suffered the same problem, following the colorful and animalistic Dempsey with a cerebral style.

Tunney was tough when he needed to be -- he broke his nose in the opening moments of his 15-round decision loss to Harry Grab, the sole defeat of his career -- and beat Grab in their next four bouts. And he was Dempsey’s master in two bouts. However, he also was an intellectual who read books and studied poetry. The public disliked him far more than it should have, for he was a great fighter.

Brock Lesnar = George Foreman

Before he dropped Joe Frazier six times in two brutal rounds to win the heavyweight crown in 1973, Foreman was believed by many to be more myth than reality. At 220 pounds, with a record of 37-0 (34 KO), the 1968 Olympic gold medalist had also looked clumsy against slicker opposition prior to his title shot. While he had undeniable physical gifts, he could at times appear plodding and too much of a headhunter.

Foreman proved that he was more than just a big guy. Heavyweight contenders in his day rarely scaled more than 210 pounds, and styles like Frazier’s were tailor-made for Foreman, who used a punishing jab and power punches to bounce the champion around like a yo-yo before the bout was mercifully stopped. Foreman scored two more one-sided defenses, including a second-round destruction of Ken Norton, before getting outboxed and outfoxed by Muhammad Ali in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974.

Lesnar is the kind of physical phenom Foreman was in his era. A man who has to cut weight to make a sculpted 265 pounds should not be as quick and technically adept as Lesnar. His November bout with Randy Couture is one heck of an acid test for a guy with only three fights to his credit. Remember, though, that Couture bases his game on overpowering people and utilizing better wrestling. That’s exactly the kind of fight Lesnar can win, and if he does, his bandwagon is sure to fill up.

A slicker submission artist like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira might give him the kind of trouble Couture cannot, but either way, Lesnar has a big opportunity to establish himself as a legitimate contender at UFC 91 on Nov. 15.

Check out the first and second volume of Jason Probst's MMA Fighters & Boxing Counterparts.
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