The fight has been promoted as the biggest two athletes in UFC history fighting for the No. 1 contender spot in the heavyweight division. It has also been promoted as a classic “striker vs. wrestler” battle, based on me being, if I may say so, one on the best, if not the best, strikers in the division and Brock almost certainly being the best wrestler in the UFC’s top division.
However, I don’t necessarily agree it is that simple.
While he doesn’t have world-class technique, Mr. Lesnar is a big man who can punch, and I have trained to avoid Lesnar’s strikes like I would any opponent. I will never give an opponent a chance he cannot create for himself by not preparing for any situation. It is not only about respecting Mr. Lesnar, but also respecting myself and the sport.
I’m an all-around fighter. I do everything. I’ve got wrestling, I’ve got submissions and I’ve got striking. Of course, I like to knock people out – and that is the plan Friday – and my striking is something that I focused on because I wanted to be the first MMA champion to also win the K-1 kickboxing Grand Prix, which I did a year ago. Obviously my strikes were my best weapons even before K-1, but they got a lot better because of the K-1 competition.
Right now, I don’t feel anyone in the division can strike with me, but this is MMA and I have prepared very hard for any eventuality.
There’s a chance I could use a submission. This fight isn’t just a case of my strikes against his wrestling, I have won big fights with submissions, and while I think every fighter prefers to win by KO, at this level you take any chance to win.
There are lots of little distractions, but none of them will affect the result. When I’m looking in Brock Lesnar’s eyes, I won’t be thinking about missing a training session because there was a miscommunication about my drug test.
This fight is scheduled for five rounds, and I have trained for five, but I personally think I will win in the first round. I will knock Brock Lesnar out. Second round at the latest. I never underestimate anyone, and Mr Lesnar is a former UFC world champion, but this is it, the chance to send a message to my fans, my critics and to UFC fans who maybe haven’t seen too much of me yet. All the talk, all the would-be distractions, all the training and the hours in the gym and on the mat – it all comes down to Friday night.
He wants it, I want it. One shall stand, one shall fall.