Brock Lesnar had reason to gloat on Saturday night.
Nearly five years after his last mixed martial arts bout, Lesnar made a relatively seamless transition from the World Wrestling Entertainment ring to the Octagon, taking a unanimous decision triumph over Top 10 heavyweight Mark Hunt in the UFC 200 co-main event.
Lesnar didn’t showcase many new wrinkles to his game at the T-Mobile Arena, but his size, power and wrestling were more than enough to get the job done against Hunt. More importantly, the ex-heavyweight king was far more healthy than he was during than second half of his initial UFC stint, when an intestinal disease robbed him of many of the skills that initially made him a champion.
“The whole training camp was different,” Lesnar said. “My prior training camps five years ago were pretty depressing camps. I trained for a couple days and take five days off; train for three days and take a week off. I had 12 inches of my colon removed, jumped back in the Octagon three months later. Who does that s—? Come on. I’ve been gone five years. I step in the Octagon tonight with the guy ranked No. 8 in the world.
“You can write what you want to write, but I think I’m the toughest son of a bitch. It puts me right in the game. Granted, I’ve got some work to do, but don’t we all.”
Other than health, perhaps the biggest question surrounding Lesnar’s return was his ability to take a punch. In previous bouts against Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem, the South Dakota native did not appear to respond well to getting hit, and it seemed that a matchup with Hunt was tailor-made to expose that deficiency.
While Hunt didn’t land in great volume, Lesnar’s chin held up when he did connect.
No, I wasn’t rocked. I don’t know if they were his best shots or not. I felt them,” he said. “The mystery’s gone. I guess I can take a shot. I just stuck to the game plan. I’ve been out of the game for five years, people.….He never knocked the f—k out of me. Here I am. I’m happy.”
Meanwhile, Lesnar’s heavy-handed ground-and-pound nearly earned him a finish on a couple of occasions. However, Hunt was able to survive the onslaught from his massive opponent and make it to the final bell, making it just the second time in his MMA career that Lesnar has won via decision.
“I wanted to finish the fight but the guy’s got a coconut head. My ground-and-pound, I’m sure he’s gonna feel it tomorrow as sure as I’m gonna feel his punch tomorrow,” Lesnar said. “He’s a tough son of a bitch. He took a lot of good shots from me and I took some from him. Would I like to end the fight? Absolutely, but I won.”
Lesnar took the UFC by storm during his initial run, capturing the heavyweight belt in his third Octagon appearance with a technical knockout victory over Hall of Famer Randy Couture. He defended the belt twice before ending his first promotional tenure on a two-fight skid. Now just a few days shy of his 39th birthday, Lesnar wouldn’t rule out another title run.
“I believe any man can do whatever he wants if he puts his mind to it. I’ve been out of the game for five years and trained for six weeks. I think I put a good beating on Mark Hunt tonight. I think anything’s possible, ain’t it?”
Of course, to make such a run would require that Lesnar to sign on the dotted line for more Octagon appearances. For now, all he can look ahead to is next month, when he returns to the WWE to perform at SummerSlam. Interestingly enough, a promo for that match ran prior his walkout on Saturday night.
Lesnar seems to know that in the aftermath of his victory over Hunt, he has plenty of leverage no matter what path he might choose.
“Let’s get one thing clear: Brock Lesnar does what Brock Lesnar wants to do,” he said. “I believe that my future is already laid out for the next month. I’m doing SummerSlam against Randy Orton. Once the dust settles there, I don’t know what I’m gonna do yet.
“I had one hell of a time tonight. And I enjoyed myself.”