Today, the biggest announcement in the history of the UFC's reality television show, The Ultimate Fighter, was made when UFC president Dana White announced that former WWE superstar, and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar would coach against heavyweight number one contender Junior dos Santos for the thirteenth season of the series. Not only is this a huge move for the television series, this is a huge match for the UFC. With current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez sidelined for the first half of 2011, a fight of this magnitude is exactly what was needed to keep the division moving, especially when considering that Strikeforce's heavyweight grand prix threatens to create a number one heavyweight in the world that is not under the UFC's banner. This bout looks to not only do incredible PPV numbers, but a sell out in the rumored venue of Vancouver is likely to break records.
It's surprising to see Lesnar accept a six week coaching job, where he'll be removed from the comforts of his secluded home in Minnesota, considering that time away from home was a large factor in his move away from professional wrestling. Of course, the time away for a simple reality television show is nothing compared to being on the road all year with the WWE. Lesnar stands to gain quite a bit by accepting to coach on TUF, not only will he be looking at a fat check, he'll gain significant exposure leading in to the release of his book. Lesnar and the UFC aren't the only ones set to profit from his willingness to coach TUF though. Junior dos Santos has become one of the most exciting heavyweights in the sport today,and being a heavy handed knock out artist goes a long way, that much is certain. JDS coaching opposite of Brock Lesnar makes him an instant hero for all of those who despise Lesnar, and he gets a huge boost to his recognition, as he'll be coaching on what will most definitely be the most watched season of the show in it's history.
After the jump, we discuss what to expect on TUF, and then give an early analysis of Brock Lesnar vs. Junior dos Santos.
The idea of Brock Lesnar participating in The Ultimate Fighter is still settling in my mind, and I still can't picture the mountain of a man on screen coaching fighters. Immediately I'm reminded of horrible coaches from past seasons (Sorry Rampage, but it's mostly you) and wonder if Lesnar will be able to provide ample coaching while his team fights. Picturing Lesnar shouting kick boxing instructions from the corner seems like a long shot. On the other hand, the Brazilian Junior dos Santos has to overcome a language barrier with his team. Either way, it'll be interesting to see how the quality of the coaching, and how it is handled.
Dana White claimed that this will be an interesting season to film, in regards to having Lesnar on set, and I have to agree. Many in the MMA world have shunned Lesnar for his professional wrestling background, and there's no doubt in my mind that the participants this season will have some colorful opinions on Lesnar as a person, and as a fighter. Will Lesnar's emotions cause some fireworks? Bet on it. The production crew will milk that angle for all it's worth and then some, hoping that something will get the former heavyweight champion to lose his temper. It's going to be a very, very interesting season, that much is certain.
Moving on to the actual match up between Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos, it's great to see Lesnar stepping up and facing such a dangerous opponent coming off the Velasquez loss. He could have pushed for a fight with Frank Mir, that would have been far more winnable, in my opinion at least, but he chose to take on the most dangerous striker in the UFC's heavyweight division. Whether it's the challenge, or the money that influenced Lesnar more, we don't know, but either way, I'm surprised he took it.
With the majority of Lesnar's past fights, the deciding factor was whether or not his opponent could stop his take downs, or spring back up after one, and the same goes for this fight. JDS has yet to face a wrestler even close to Lesnar's caliber, but was able to avoid being held down by Roy Nelson. Roy Nelson is far from Brock Lesnar though, and whether Lesnar can get JDS down, and keep him down, will be the key to victory for either man. A massive worry for Lesnar though, is that he has to avoid taking a monster punch from JDS while he attempts to get the fight to the mat. We saw in both the Carwin and Velasquez fights that Lesnar can be tagged while he tries to close the distance, can Lesnar work on that hole in his game enough to avoid being embarrassed once again?
As season 13 of TUF begins, and this fight draws near, we'll be hearing and seeing more on both fighters that will no doubt influence people's predictions going into the fight. Such "propaganda" is expected, but what will be a major factor in my pick, will be who Lesnar brings in for his camp. As in, if he gets with Greg Nelson or not. Junior dos Santos has a great camp behind him, and Lesnar will need a great team to insure a victory come June.
I've not been this excited for a season of The Ultimate Fighter in a quite some time, and I've got high hopes that the season, and the fight between these two heavyweights will be one to remember.