Thoughts on Lesnar vs. Herring, UFC 87

Like many of you, last Saturday night I sat transfixed, watching Brock Lesnar maul Heath Herring at UFC 87. While I was watching, a friend leaned over and asked me if I’d injured myself recently: I had gotten so tense while watching that my neck was all stiff and my shoulders were creeping up to somewhere around my ears.

My tension (and interest in the fight) arose for at least three reasons.

Firstly, as you’ve probably noticed, Brock Lesnar is a very large human. He actually has to cut weight to get under the 265 pound limit for heavyweights. The combination of huge size and great athleticism makes for such fascinating viewing that if one of those Pacific Northwest earthquakes had hit while I during that fight I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

Secondly, my friend and mentor Erik Paulson was in Lesnar’s corner. Brock Lesnar was very happy with the training he’d received from Erik Paulson and Greg Nelson for his debut fight against Frank Mir, and so, despite a disappointing initial loss, decided to stick with his coaching staff. From personal experience I know just how good an instructor Erik is, but it’s always nice when someone famous agrees with you.

Thirdly, I was fascinated by how disciplined Brock Lesnar was. He didn’t get greedy or overreach, he just stuck to his gameplan and methodically continued the beatdown. He paced himself and never used dipped too deep into his anaerobic reserves. Also, when Lesnar was in mount and Herring turned to his belly, Lesnar DIDN’T put the hooks in and move into rearmount as most MMA fighters would do. Instead he dismounted, leaving Herring turtled beneath him. Years of amateur wrestling have made Lesnar very comfortable in what is basically a modified referee’s position, and it worked great for him.

The point here is NOT that you shouldn’t take rear mount if your opponent gives it to you – I love the rear mount and always take it if given the chance. The point is that you shouldn’t change horses in midstream, especially if the horse you’re on is taking you the right way anyhow. Lesnar had a strategy that had worked for him in wrestling and had worked for him in MMA training, and now it worked for him in the UFC.

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