Mixed martial artists come from every corner of the globe, bearing a variety of styles. Sometimes, fighters are products of their environment, favoring disciplines prevalent in the country or state from which they hail. Various regions of the United States are considered factories for great fighters, though that certainly is not the case with each state. In this weekly Sherdog.com series, the spotlight will shine on the best mixed martial artist of all-time from each of the 50 states. Fighters do not necessarily need to be born in a given state to represent it; they simply need to be associated with it.
No one can deny the long-lasting impact Brock Lesnar had on the sport of mixed martial arts in a short period of time. A two-time NCAA All-American at the University of Minnesota, the Webster, South Dakota, native won a national championship in 2000 before becoming a World Wrestling Entertainment superstar. He turned to MMA in 2007, debuting with a first-round technical knockout of Olympic silver medalist Min Soo Kim under the K-1 banner.
Lesnar signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship soon after, eventually becoming the promotion’s undisputed heavyweight champion and the sport’s biggest box-office draw. He engaged in a bitter two-fight rivalry with Frank Mir in which they exchanged wins, and his combination of size, strength and athleticism was something to behold. However, a life-threatening bout with diverticulitis cut short his career and made for an abbreviated run at the top.
Following back-to-back lopsided defeats to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem, Lesnar in 2011 announced his retirement from MMA. He returned to the Octagon at UFC 200 on July 9 and took a unanimous decision from Mark Hunt. However, the result was later changed to a no-contest when Lesnar failed a post-fight drug screen. Soon after, he once again retired from mixed martial arts competition.
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