Wrestling icon turned MMA gladiator Brock Lesnar took time out to talk about his next opponent Heath Herring, his training, why he made the transfer from pro wrestling to the UFC, and much more…
BoxingInsider: Heading into your UFC fight against Frank Mir last February, there was a lot of anticipation by fans in regards to how you would do in your MMA debut. Even though you lost the fight, were you happy with your performance?
Brock Lesnar: “When you lose a fight, it is difficult to be happy with your performance. There were some things I did right and some things I did wrong. I felt like I rushed the fight a little bit from the start. I made a mistake and put myself in a dangerous position, and Frank was able to capitalize on it. Still, I was happy that at least the fight was exciting and I think the fans enjoyed it.”
BoxingInsider: In hindsight, is there anything that you would have done differently in training and preparation for facing Mir now that you know what you do?
Brock Lesnar: “No. I had a great training camp and we did all the right things. Looking back, there really isn’t anything I would have done differently prior to the fight.”
BoxingInsider: Would you be interested in having a re-match with Mir? Do you think fans would be interested in seeing it booked?
Brock Lesnar: “I would certainly be interested in a rematch. I hope I get that opportunity down the road. I think the fans thought it was an exciting fight and it was not without controversy, so I think people would really like to see what would happen if we did it again.”
BoxingInsider: Despite the fact that you lost your debut fight in UFC, it seems as if a lot of the fans that were booing you before the fight now take your very seriously. What do you think of the new-found respect that some MMA fans are showing you?
Brock Lesnar: “I appreciate it.”
BoxingInsider: You are now training with two very good trainers in the business, Erik Paulson and Greg Nelson. What are some of the similarities and differences between the two men in terms of the training sessions that you’ve had with both men?
Brock Lesnar: “Greg and Erik have trained together, and have trained fighters together, for a long time and share the same general training philosophy. Both guys have an incredible amount of knowledge and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from them.”
BoxingInsider: Training with Greg Nelson, you also have access to some very impressive training partners. What is it like to train with someone as talented as Sean Sherk?
Brock Lesnar: “Minnesota Martial Arts Academy is an excellent place to train. While Sean Sherk and I don’t frequently train together directly because of the size difference, Sean has been very helpful since I started training at MMAA in 2006. I have been able to surround myself with a talented group of heavyweight training partners, including Jesse Wallace, Kirk Klosowsky and Chris Tuchscherer, and we have been able to bring in a number of additional training partners to work on specific areas.”
BoxingInsider: When UFC fans watched some of your training sessions on the All Access show on Spike TV, people were blown away by the regimen that you put yourself through. Is there such a thing as over-training and do you think your training regimen is optimally suited for the kind of cardio you need to be competitive for three round and five round MMA fights?
Brock Lesnar: “I work with Marty Morgan, the assistant coach for the University of Minnesota wrestling team, to constantly evaluate my training. Marty is remarkable when comes to helping athletes peak at the right time for competition. I don’t think there is anyone better. You have to train smart. There is always a risk of over-training or training beyond what your body is able to recover from, and that leads to injuries. Marty knows when I need to be pushed or when I have pushed too hard and the workouts are adjusted as needed.”
BoxingInsider: Your entry into MMA is fascinating because we are clearly seeing a trend of collegiate amateur wrestlers who are now bypassing professional wrestling and are heading straight to MMA. You went into pro wrestling because of money and now you have made the transition to MMA. What are some of the challenges that you have faced that maybe a lot of fans wouldn’t think about when looking at how your fighting career has evolved?
Brock Lesnar: “Considering that I have only a couple minutes of actual MMA fight experience, I don’t know that my fighting has really had a chance to evolve yet.”
BoxingInsider: Why did you decide to make the transition from professional wrestling to MMA? Obviously, there are factors like traveling and money at stake, but were there other reasons for making the career transition?
Brock Lesnar: “I’m a really competitive person. Professional wrestling is competitive in many ways, but I missed being involved in real athletic competition. All things being equal, I would have gone right from amateur wrestling to MMA. Back in 2000-2001, however, that wasn’t really a viable option compared to professional wrestling. After a few years of professional wrestling, I needed to get back into something competitive.”
BoxingInsider: There has been a lot of talk that some power brokers in WWE are interested in getting into the MMA business. If Vince McMahon was to invest money in the MMA scene and promote events, do you think he could successful at it? Would people take it seriously?
Brock Lesnar: “No Comment.”
BoxingInsider: are facing a tough opponent in Heath Herring this August in your home state of Minnesota. Herring has been in some wars, including his recent UFC fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. What is the most critical aspect of Herring’s skill set that you are training for?
Brock Lesnar: “Herring is very experienced and he’s fought some the best fighters in the world. When you train for a guy like Heath, you have to train to be ready for anything and that’s probably the most critical aspect of his skill set – he’s unpredictable.”
BoxingInsider: Right now, the heavyweight scene in UFC is controlled by one man and that’s Minotauro Nogueira. When you watch Nogueira in action, is he someone that you view as beatable? If you are able to beat Herring, how far down the road do you see yourself fighting Nogueira for the UFC belt?
Brock Lesnar: “I don’t think anyone is unbeatable in this sport, but I’m really focused on beating Heath Herring at the moment.”
BoxingInsider: What kind of pressure do you feel, if any, fighting on your home turf? Obviously you have worked before some big crowds in WWE, but this is a very high-profile fight for you in front of a lot of your peers.
Brock Lesnar: “I’m really fortunate to get the chance to fight in front of my hometown crowd on such a big stage. I’ve wrestled at the Target Center not only with WWE, but also as an amateur. Fighting at home doesn’t add any pressure – they call it ‘home-field advantage’ for good reason. I don’t have to travel. I get to sleep in my own bed the night before the fight.”
BoxingInsider: What fighters in MMA do you enjoy watching the most? Is there a certain weight class of fighters that you are a big fan of?
Brock Lesnar: “I’ve always enjoyed watching the heavyweights, particularly, fighters that came from the amateur wrestling scene – Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, Randy Couture. Guys like that.”
BoxingInsider: . You have several fights left on your UFC contract. Do you see yourself sticking to the MMA scene long-term or do you other ambitions that you want to fulfill in the fight game?
Brock Lesnar: “This is something I want to do long-term. There is no back-up plan. My goal is to be the best fighter in the world, UFC Heavyweight Champion.”