Monday, July 13, 2009

Brock Lesnar's actions at UFC 100

Former WWE pro wrestler and champion Brock Lesnar faced Frank Mir for the undisputed UFC title this weekend. Beginning of the match, he refused to tap gloves with Mir, and afterwards flipped off the fans before cutting a very WWE-style heel promo on his opponent and the entire UFC.

As UFC falls more into the realm of 'real' (if extreme) sports than the WWE, this was widely criticized by UFC fans, as well as UFC owner Dana White, as unsportsmanlike and inappropriate behaviour. While I don't necessarily think Lesnar needed to do much to rile the fans up - the anti-pro wrestling UFC fans weren't taking him seriously, and were booing him from his entrance on - I do agree with the sentiment. Bottom line; Mike Tyson's lack of professionalism in his later career was not appreciated, nor was Todd Bertuzzi's some years back in the NHL when he attacked an opponent from behind, nor is such behaviour appreciated in any other legitimate sport. UFC at this point has a certain 'respectability' factor as being real, having rules (as minimalist as they may be), and this was not the situation in which to revert back to your wrestling persona.

Is it done in other sports? Yes of course; it is a testosterone-driven community and particularly as you get more 'extreme' (ie UFC). It doesn't make it right. And especially after Lesnar just last week decried his wrestling experience as a stepping stone - you don't go straight from amateur wrestling to acting, or UFC, or other legitimate sports - and said 'the smart ones are the ones who get out, they really are', I wouldn't have expected him to lean so heavily on that part of his history.

I'm pleased he apologized for his behaviour today, quite rightly so; he's a young guy who no doubt was on an adrenaline high after a tough match. But hopefully he can keep this lesson under his hat and behave more professionally in the future. While the UFC isn't exactly a suit-wearing, coffee-drinking corporate environment, it is also not exactly Vince McMahon's 3-ring circus anymore either, and if nothing else, you can get seriously hurt for developing a reputation of getting out of line.


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