Brock Lesnar file photo: Sherdog.com
Watching UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar barely escape Shane Carwin’s fists during a shaky first round at UFC 116 last Saturday in Las Vegas, Lesnar's boxing coach Peter Welch wasn’t as alarmed for him as most.
“I wasn't really concerned because I know there's always a chance for recovery,” said Welch on the Sherdog Radio Network's “Beatdown” show on Wednesday. “If you can't punch in traffic then you're not ready…I've seen Brock do it on numerous occasions. He can punch in traffic and I know it's just a matter of setting the feet and turning it around.”
In fact, Welch, who spent weeks secretly training Lesnar at his Death Clutch gym in Alexandria, Minn., leading up to the bout, said things unfolded in a predictable way.
“Part of our strategy and the things that we worked on in camp limited (Carwin’s) ability to get into those standup exchanges and relied a lot on when he did get (Brock) in a vulnerable position with Brock being up against the cage with his head down,” Welch said. “I just think (Carwin) made the best of the situation he had and he may have gassed out when he put himself in that position.”
Lesnar's willingness to explore vulnerable positions during training not only helped him in the fight, it’s also the reason he's a champion now with only six fights on his ledger, said Welch.
“Either you have it or you don't,” said Welch. “But he has a ton of heart, a ton of balls and a good chin. You put those three together and you get the heavyweight champ of the world. You get through that and that's the difference between a guy that puts his tail between his legs and a guy that will jump up and do damage.”
Welch said the 32-year-old champion hasn’t yet begun to tap into his striking potential.
“His strongest punch? He hasn't shown it yet,” said the Boston-based trainer. “So I'll just leave that as a mystery. In training he's shown a lot of potential to unleash some serious leverage and good snap and good power on his punches. So, it's now a matter of getting Brock comfortable enough to get the repetitions in and he's going to be a force to be reckoned with, not only in striking, but in all areas. It's just a matter of getting the reps in. Once he gets the reps in, he's going to lock it in.”
Welch, who served as a boxing coach in the earlier seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter” on Spike TV, said Lesnar is the largest fighter he’s ever worked with and that his athleticism is virtually unparalleled in the sport for his 6-foot-3, 265-pound frame.
“Clearly he's an elite athlete,” Welch stated. “He's the best in the world. I mean it's not rocket science. You bring it back to fundamentals. You bring it back to basics and you work with that.”
The trainer said Lesnar is an attentive student.
“That's (one of) the most important things (is) wanting to help the guy get better and secondly is making the connections,” said Welch. “If you can't do either one of those you're not going to be able to help the guy and if he thinks he's the boss and the know-it-all, why do you need me? Go find somebody that will be able to put up with that nonsense. Brock's not that type of guy. He's very studious. This is why he's the heavyweight champion of the world.”
Welch will return to Lesnar’s camp in the coming months to help ready him for a yet-to-be-scheduled title defense against Cain Velasquez. The 20-year-plus boxing veteran is looking forward to it.
“He's going to improve leaps and bounds this camp because he's going to have a perfect strategy,” said Welch. “We've already gone through the introduction period and now we're going to get down and we're going to take care of business at a different level. When you're dealing with athletes at this level it just accelerates the learning. It's actually a privilege and an honor to work with guys like this because they make you look good.”