Mixed Martial Arts

Different Ring To Lesnar's New Sport

Former pro wrestling superstar Brock Lesnar is favored to win his UFC debut bout against Frank Mir.
Former pro wrestling superstar Brock Lesnar is favored to win his UFC debut bout against Frank Mir. (By Jim Mone -- Associated Press)
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Saturday, February 2, 2008

When he was a World Wrestling Entertainment superstar, Brock Lesnar always entered the ring knowing the outcome.

Lesnar knew he was going to hit the Undertaker with a propane tank, as he did in October 2002. He knew he was going to steal "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's four-wheeler, as he did in his next-to-last match in early 2004.

But heading into his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut tonight in UFC 81 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Lesnar has no idea how it's going to turn out. Lesnar, a former heavyweight college wrestling champion with one K-1 mixed martial arts fight to his name, will face Frank Mir, a former UFC heavyweight champion and six-year UFC veteran.

And strangely enough, the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Lesnar is favored by Las Vegas oddsmakers to win.

"I guess we'll see" what happens, said Lesnar, who is the first professional wrestler to make the leap to the UFC. "I hope [I'm ready]. I'd like to think that, but this is obviously a true test for me and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Lesnar's only mixed martial arts fight lasted 1 minute 9 seconds. In a June 2 bout, his opponent, Min Soo Kim, spent less than nine seconds on his feet and another minute on his back taking punches to the side of the head before he submitted.

Lesnar has been training in mixed martial arts for two years but will draw heavily from his wrestling experience. While at the University of Minnesota, he was a two-time NCAA all-American, two-time Big Ten champion and the 2000 heavyweight national champion.

After college, Lesnar said he had few options to continue competing and WWE Board of Directors Chairman Vince McMahon had $250,000 and a contract waiting for him. So he became an entertainer.

"I was 21 years old and I didn't have a pot to piss in," Lesnar said. "I mean, come on, you make the decision."

But the competitive aspect of sports, where the winner isn't decided before the match, is what Lesnar says has always run through his blood. So in March 2004, Lesnar left WWE to pursue professional football, a move many of his fans said was a publicity stunt.

Lesnar was in the Minnesota Vikings' training camp, made highlight reels for a vicious preseason hit on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard but eventually was cut. Now Lesnar has moved on to his next sport, and he vows he's serious.

"For me, being a big star isn't what this is all about," Lesnar said. "To me it's about being back competing again and, you know, just getting to fight. I'm really just excited to be a part of the UFC and, you know, just kind of see what happens."

-- Ryan Mink

© 2008 The Washington Post Company