Brock Lesnar is now the biggest PPV attraction in mixed martial arts, and has brought a large following of new fans who have the mistaken impression that he’s ‘unbeatable’. Before his past two fights many were questioning whether his credentials justified giving him a shot at the title, with some even unfairly comparing him to EliteXC YouTube sideshow attraction Kimbo Slice. In the aftermath of Lesnars UFC 100 victory the new question surrounding the former WWE champion has become who can beat this guy? Lesnar definitely is a freaky physical specimen combining size and strength with speed and agility. Hes also progressing by leaps and bounds as a fighter with every bout. Still, hes got a big deficit in experience to make up on the job as UFC heavyweight champion.
Lesnar is no doubt a handful for any opponent, but in many ways Randy Couture was a perfect matchup for him. He had a significant size advantage against an opponent from a wrestling background and without a well developed submission game. Frank Mir made a serious tactical error, thinking that he could absorb a beating on the ground and wait for a submission opportunity. Lesnar had gameplanned Mir perfectly, and implemented a fight plan that allowed him to pound his opponent mercilessly while avoiding the risk of submission. Neither observation is meant to diminish the significance of Lesnars victories, but to underscore the fact that hes not unbeatable. Heres five fighters who could do it:
1) FEDOR EMELIANENKO: ‘The Last Emperor’ is until proven otherwise the best heavyweight in the sport. The former PRIDE champion has striking power, submission mastery, and may be the toughest fighter mentally in the sport. Fedor might get taken down by the new UFC heavyweight champ, but hed reverse it from the bottom and win via armbar.
2) ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA: Nogueira would present Lesnar with another formidable challenge. The former Interim heavyweight champion has equal, if not superior, BJJ skills and has proven to be tougher and more durable than Mir. His five career losses are all via decision and came to the absolute highest level of competition (Fedor Emelianenko twice, Frank Mir, Josh Barnett and Dan Henderson). The UFC heavyweight division is notoriously thin, but among the current crop Nogueira is by far Lesnars worst matchup.
3) JOSH BARNETT: Barnett is another unlikely opponent for Lesnar, also due to his strained relationship with Dana White and current issues with his positive drug test. Barnett also has a solid wrestling background, with the added dimension of his sizable submission repertoire. As his career has progressed, Barnett has become a more patient and tactically sound fighter and his standup game has improved significantly. Unfortunately for MMA fans, a matchup between Lesnar and Barnett is more likely to happen in an IGF pro wrestling event than in the UFC.
4) ALISTAIR OVEREEM: Overeem is actually bigger than Lesnar”260 pounds and 65 tall–and has compiled a 5-1-1 record in his last seven fights. Mirko Cro Cop suggests that hes the *only* fighter in the world who could beat Fedor Emelianenko at this point. Hes got great standup including a kickboxing background that could cause Lesnar problems, as well as solid ground fighting ability. Hes yet another heavyweight that is unlikely to bend to Dana Whites contractual demands, and currently has a relationship with DREAM in Japan and Strikeforce in the US. Still, hes a dangerous matchup for any fighter on the planet. Hopefully, his recent hand injury will recover sufficiently to allow him back into competition quickly.
5) RANDY COUTURE: Lesnars win over Couture was far from decisive, and it didnt have anything to do with the age disparity. Couture got caught with a big shot and it cost him the fight. Until that point, he was more than holding his own. He was making his opponent work hard, had the edge in the striking exchanges and had opened up a cut over Lesnars right eye. Itll never be a favorable physical matchup on paper for Couture but at the same time Lesnar in no way proved his categorical superiority over The Natural
Lesnars next challenge is likely to be the winner of the Cain Velesquez/Shane Carwin match. Both are big, rugged competitors but are also beatable opponents for Lesnar. An intriguing matchup down the road could be against Croatian striking machine Mirko Cro Cop. Cro Cop has battled injuries over the past year or so but if he could come close to the form he demonstrated in winning the PRIDE Open Weight GP he could be another formidable challenge. At his best, Cro Cop is simply the most devastating striker in the sport. While the UFC is likely to set up ‘favorable’ matchups for Lesnar in the near term to allow them to take advantage of his PPV popularity, he’ll have his hands full defending his UFC heavyweight title.
Ross Everett is a widely published freelance writer and noted authority on sports betting odds comparison. He writing has appeared on a variety of sports sites including sports news and sportsbook directory sites. He lives in Las Vegas with three Jack Russell Terriers and an emu. He is currently working on an autobiography of former energy secretary Donald Hodell.