Thursday, July 9, 2009

How Vince McMahon robbed Brock Lesnar's soul

Whether you're talking about instant replay in baseball or mustard on Polish sausage, some things in life just can't be undone.

Here are five examples :

1. Even though they played for other teams in the latter parts of their careers, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen will always be remembered as Chicago Bulls.

2. Shaq and Kobe divorced after a tumultuous eight-year marriage in La La Land, but by virtue of their three-peat (along with the nature of the relationship itself) with the Lakers, the two future Hall of Famers will always have their names tied together.

3. Even with the Onassis surname, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis will always be John F. Kennedy's wife.

4. No one will ever forget Julio Iglesias' being once married to Isabel Preysler.

5. Elvis Presley never got over Priscilla.

Likewise, Brock Lesnar will always be Vince McMahon's UFC operative.

Although it's been more than five years since he last wrestled, Brock Lesnar is still WWE in terms of persona. He was a bad ass villain back in the WWE, and he's a bad ass villain in the UFC.

He may be fighting for real now, but with his humongous frame and freakish athletic ability, Lesnar is larger than life. He smashed Heath Herring and Randy Couture to become UFC heavyweight champion in just his fourth fight. Add his signature trash talk and what you have is Godzilla, a monster whom many people will be rooting against at UFC 100.

Enter Frank Mir.

If Brock Lesnar is the ultimate MMA supervillain, Frank Mir is the ultimate superhero.

Mir's career is a story of human triumph : Mir rose to the rank of heavyweight champion in the UFC but broke his femur in two places and tore all the ligaments in his knee in a motorcycle accident and struggled to make a successful comeback. However, he turned his fortunes around with three straight wins, including victories over Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and is now interim heavyweight titlist. When he enters the Octagon against Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir will be fighting to become undisputed champion.

You know, another Frank Mir victory would make for the ultimate Hollywood script, but I just don't see it happening this time. Brock Lesnar has gained more big-time experience since he got caught in a kneebar in February 2008, and has demonstrated that he can apply his wrestling pedigree to control fights, like he did against Herring.

Moreover, Lesnar's athletic strengths lie where Mir's weaknesses are. Mir would punish a lesser fighter from a distance with his boxing and kickboxing, and give him a little room and he will submit you. But Mir is kind of stiff and slow in terms of raising and lowering his body, something Lesnar executes flawlessly with lightning quick precision.

Frank Mir showed against Nogueira that he can throw his hands a little, but would his lateral footwork and high-low movement be good enough against a charging Lesnar who can drop foes with a single punch or takedown? I personally don't think so, and I see Mir becoming another Herring, getting taken down or dropped early and being on the receiving end of a claustrophobic smothering and senseless pounding.

I predict that Mir's corner will throw in the towel after three rounds.

I love the whole good guy vs. bad guy thing going on in UFC 100. I don't think I need to tell you, but for Georges St. Pierre vs. Thiago Alves, GSP is the hero and Alves the villain.

Alves is huge, and struggles to make weight at 170. His Muay Thai is devastating, his timing impeccable and his counterpunching overlooked. Alves' robust head protects him from knockouts, his takedown defense from wrestlers and his purple belt Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from joint locks. He's the ultimate juggernaut, the Sagat that barricades GSP's quest to master himself through the martial arts like Ryu did.

I get a feeling that GSP-Alves will turn out to be somewhat similar to the karate fight between Major Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) and Chunjin (Henry Silva) in the classic film The Manchurian Candidate (1962).

Thiago Alves puts so much pressure on a fighter with his striking combinations and counterpunches so well that GSP will have to fight the fight of his life to get away with a win. Luckily for GSP, he has his meticulous training and study habits, leaving no page unturned, so he'll be ready.

St. Pierre will be hurt. He has shown that he can be hit - and hurt - by fighters not nearly as powerful as Alves, so he'll take a beating, no matter how prepared. But GSP's dedication to the art of fighting and conditioning has made him a fine ring general with the ability to control fights with either his boxing or wrestling. And he'll avoid just enough direct hits to leave the fight with his senses intact.

So while I think Thiago Alves is too strong and skilled for Georges St. Pierre to finish, I foresee GSP using his sweet science, wrestling and cardio to dictate the flow of the fight and earning a split decision on the judges' scorecards.

Now we've come full circle.

Everyone on the UFC 100 card is a Dana White fighter, literally and figuratively, but Brock Lesnar is still a Vince McMahon guy. Lesnar's propensity to play the bad guy may have come naturally, but it was McMahon that recognized the wrestler's talents and made him world famous and rich.

Brock Lesnar steadfastly denies ever having used steroids while in the WWE, but he did say that he was "brainwashed" by the WWE lifestyle of having to play a character in the script.

That - in essence - was the equivalent of Vince McMahon programming Brock Lesnar so that Lesnar would continue to promote the WWE with his bad ass style long after he left.

That - at its heart - was the equivalent of Vince McMahon robbing the soul of Brock Lesnar by having Lesnar play the villain when the lights, cameras and action come on - even for unscripted fights.

It's just like how Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) was "dry-cleaned" by Communist agents to carry out their sinister plans upon seeing the Queen of Diamonds while "passing the time by playing a little solitaire" in The Manchurian Candidate.

And that is how the fates of Vince McMahon and Brock Lesnar will forever be intertwined.

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