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This day in MMA: Brock Lesnar becomes UFC heavyweight champion

Andrew Ardizzi November 15, 2012

When Brock Lesnar fought in the UFC, he was one of the more polarizing figures in MMA. As physically imposing as one could be, his grappling ability and the power behind his strikes were nearly unmatched, guiding his early ascension up the UFC’s heavyweight ranks. Having made his UFC debut against Frank Mir in a losing effort in Feb. 2008, Lesnar bounced back from the loss by dismantling Pride veteran Heath Herring in August of that year. While Lesnar was just beginning to make a name for himself inside the biggest MMA organization on the planet, the cold war between UFC management and UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture was beginning to thaw. With Couture and the organization finally coming to an agreement on his contract, Couture’s return was finally set for Nov. 15, 2008 at UFC 91 against Lesnar.

Within moments of the fight’s beginning, Couture and Lesnar locked up in a clinch and moved toward the cage, both men striking from inside the clinch with punches and knees. With Lesnar holding a single-collar tie-up and leaning all 265-pounds of him on Couture’s neck, he used his leverage to reverse the position and take control of the fight by placing Couture against the cage. After landing a few more shots from the clinch, Couture broke free, landing a solid a right hook to Lesnar’s chin on the break. The two began to circle, feinting strikes until Lesnar shot in for a single leg takedown and pressed Couture against the cage once more. Moments passed, but Lesnar eventually succeeded in taking “The Natural” down, moving into half-guard on the takedown. Despite his size and strength, Lesnar was unable to keep the MMA veteran on his back. During an attempt to advance to full mount, Lesnar lost the position and Couture reversed him, momentarily putting Lesnar’s back to the fence. The champion was unsuccessful in controlling Lesnar, as he easily stood up and put Couture on his back once more after “The Natural” failed to secure back control. With Lesnar on top, he continued to rest all of his weight on Couture, making him work to escape in hopes of draining his stamina. Couture eventually returned to his feet, clinching the behemeoth in hopes of securing a takedown. With ten seconds remaining he nearly succeeded, Lesnar using his brute force to keep the fight standing until the round ended.

The second round started similarly to the first, only now understanding his range, Lesnar was able to connect with a right hook that wobbled Couture and sent him back into the cage. Lesnar pursued, but Couture tied him up in another clinch to prevent any further damage. Lesnar began to visibly tire, and with Couture in control, things looked bleak for the WWE star. The two uncorked combinations and returned to the centre of the cage, Lesnar again connecting with a hard left hand. Undeterred, Couture pushed on and pressed Lesnar back against the cage once more. The two worked for position, but Lesnar was again able to break free, delivering a knee on the way out of the exchange. As the two men returned to the centre of the Octagon, Lesnar threw another right hook that connected on Couture’s temple and immediately dropped him. Lesnar swarmed the helpless champion and pounded on him with hammer fists until Mario Yamasaki stepped in to halt the bout at 3:07 of the second round.

The victory etched Lesnar’s name in the UFC record books, having won the UFC heavyweight championship in his fourth fight at the age of 32. With the heavyweight title in hand, Lesnar looked ahead to his next fight, a date with either Frank Mir or Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who were scheduled to compete that December for the interim UFC heavyweight title.

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