This Sunday, at WrestleMania 33, Brock Lesnar will step into the ring with long-time rival Bill Goldberg. In celebration of “The Beast Incarnate’s” latest steps into the pro wrestling arena, we decided to take a look back at some of his finest moments inside the UFC’s Octagon.
Lesnar’s first steps into the Octagon occurred at UFC 81, all the way back in 2008. Though he was just 1-0 in MMA at the time, his pro wrestling superstardom and incredible collegiate wrestling record earned him a massive test in former heavyweight champion Frank Mir. Lesnar, as a quick look at the history books reveals, would lose this fight, succumbing to a knee bar. That said, he hung in there remarkably well against the far more experienced Mir, giving a preview of the ferocity to come.
In Lesnar’s second fight in the Octagon, he thumped the similarly experienced Heath Herring to a unanimous decision win, famously sending the veteran careening across the Octagon with a punch in the process. This win would earn Lesnar perhaps the most important fight of his career: a heavyweight title shot against then champion Randy Couture.
Though Lesnar’s title shot against Couture was widely criticized, he ultimately made good on the opportunity, pummelling Couture to a second-round TKO to claim UFC gold.
“Those are big canned hams coming at your head,” Couture said of Lesnar’s punches in a 2009 interview with FanHouse. “I don’t care how good you are. That’s a lot of man and a lot of strength to go toe-to-toe with.”
In Lesnar’s next bout, he received a shot at redemption against interim heavyweight champion Frank Mir. This time around, he made it look easy, bludgeoning his old foil to a bloody, second-round TKO.
From there, Lesnar stepped onto the canvas with the similarly massive Shane Carwin – a behemoth of a man with enough punching power to knock a planet off its orbit. Though Lesnar nearly succumbed to Carwin’s legendary power in the first round, he was able to persevere – proving that he truly had a fighter’s heart – until Carwin gassed and the opportunity for an arm-triangle choke opened up. Carwin’s tap came at the 2:19 mark of round 2.
Unfortunately, this successful title defense marked the beginning of the end for Lesnar. After a lengthy battle with diverticulitis, the pro wrestling star was mauled by a savage Cain Velasquez, signalling the end of his title reign. From there, he attempted to get back on track against former Strikeforce, Dream and K-1 champ Alistair Overeem, but fell victim to a similarly decisive end.
There was, of course, Lesnar’s mid-2016 return to the Octagon, which saw him defeat Mark Hunt by unanimous decision. Unfortunately, this result was overturned when he tested positive for the banned substance clomiphene.
Though the latter portion of Brock Lesnar’s MMA career has a shadow cast over it by this failed drug test, his earlier dominance was unquestionable. And though it’ll occur in the choreographed confines of the pro wrestling ring, we’re likely to see flashes of that former dominance when he returns at WrestleMania 33 this weekend.
What was your favorite moment of Brock Lesnar’s MMA career? Sound off, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/30/2017.