What follows next is a deep laugh that probably wasn’t heard too much in the Lesnar household after a bout with what was eventually discovered to be diverticulitis put the baddest man on the MMA planet in a hospital bed and threatened his career. But once he recovered and got back to the business of preparing to defend his heavyweight title, there was a new Brock Lesnar in town.
“At any moment this could be over and I could be Joe Blow serving burgers or doing whatever,” he said. “Anything can happen at any given moment, and I try to live every day to the fullest, and I really don’t take anything for granted anymore. I never really used to, but this whole setback for me last November was a hurdle in my life that I guess God thought I had to overcome to test me and to make sure this is what I really wanted in my life. There are challenges in your life that are put before you for certain reasons, and this was one of those times.”
In January, Lesnar made his first public statement since he was sidelined, and announced that he was back from the illness and ready to return to active duty. Since then, he likens his return to a train barreling down the tracks.
“I’ve been kinda like a steam locomotive ever since January 5th,” he said. “We threw a little coal in the fire, we got the engines going a little bit, and every week, the locomotive kept building more steam and building more power, and that’s really what this has been. Everything’s coming together, and I’ve said this before – the Brock Lesnar now would annihilate the Brock Lesnar of a year ago. That’s how crazy this is. I had to have a major setback, and it was almost a good thing. We started from scratch in January and really built my strength, my core, and I was able to work on a lot of different things, and I wasn’t under any pressure. I brought different training partners in and got a different look from some different coaches. We got this piece of clay, and we said let’s mold it again.”
Now that’s scary, considering that the first piece of clay won four of his five pro bouts, won the heavyweight title, avenged his only defeat, and basically steamrolled everyone in his path. But Lesnar knows that if you’re not improving, you’re slipping, and while he didn’t completely change his team, he did revamp it in certain areas, with key additions to this camp being UFC Hall of Famer and the man Lesnar beat for the title, Randy Couture, and standout boxing coach Peter Welch.
“I looked around across the board and analyzed my life in general,” said Lesnar, 32. “First of all personally and family wise and then I analyzed my fight situation. How can I get better? How can I evolve? What’s stagnant in my training and what are some different things that I can do? I bumped into Peter in Las Vegas a while ago, (UFC President) Dana (White) introduced me to him and we hit it off, so I brought him out here. I wasn’t sure what I was gonna get, wasn’t sure if our personalities were gonna match, but he came out, it worked out, we got along great, and more importantly, he’s a great teacher. I learned a lot of good stuff from him and I wish I had brought him in sooner. I’m happy with the decision and it’s been great.”
If anything, Lesnar’s standup has been a weak point in his game. Sure, he has the type of explosive power where one swing of his fist can drop an opponent or knock him out, but technique wise, he’s far from where he’d like to be. Add in the fact that a few technical tweaks can allow him to avoid some incoming fire, and it will be interesting to see how Lesnar has progressed come Saturday night. But the man most eager to see and test the ‘new’ Lesnar is the one standing across the Octagon from him on fight night, interim champion Shane Carwin. Lesnar has already made his feelings about that interim belt well known, but what does he see when he looks past that and at the Colorado KO King?
“I just see another opponent,” he quips. “I’m not threatened by anybody in this entire world. He’s knocked a few trash cans over along the way, he’s a big guy, he’s got some wrestling ability, but this is my time. This is my era and I just don’t see him being the guy to take this all away from me.”
In other words, as far as he’s concerned, it’s all about what Brock does that will determine a victor this weekend, not about what Carwin does, or beyond that what contenders like Cain Velasquez or Junior Dos Santos are doing. In fact, he doesn’t even watch the fights.
“I don’t pay attention to anything, I really don’t,” he said. “I don’t buy pay-per-views, I don’t go on the internet. I live, eat, and breathe fighting, but it’s all about me. I don’t care about Who’s Who in Ultimate Fighting, I really don’t.”
And though that may sound strange to some, it’s what Lesnar needs to keep his sanity.
“It’s very important to not get too involved,” he said. “It’s like a job. It’s part of your life, but you’ve got to realize how to separate the two. When you go to work, you go to work, and when you leave the office, you leave the office. I don’t bring the office home with me.”
He’ll have to work this weekend, but that’s okay, because this is one trip to the office he’s been waiting to make for a long time now. And to get to this point, it took more than physical work – it required plenty of mental preparation as well, a task he’s confident will serve him well on Saturday.
“This six months since January, each week I’ve set goals and I’ve accomplished a lot of them,” he said. “The some that I didn’t, I got close to, and we kept it all in perspective. That’s what builds my confidence – it’s knowing and having belief in my training system, my coaches, and that’s a self-esteem builder. That’s the preparation. When the rubber meets the asphalt and you’ve got all these miles in the gym and you know you’ve put the time and the hard work in, that’s the preparation and that’s the confidence booster. And knowing and believing that you are the best in the entire world, and I believe that.”
Brock is back.