[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="438" caption="Photo courtesy of AP.com"]<img class=" " style="margin: 4px;" src="http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/1286/ufc4600x400.jpg" alt="Brock Lesnar UFC 116" width="438" height="292" />[/caption]
From Division 1 National Champion to legitimate mixed martial artist, Brock Lesnar has also been everything in between. After an amazing collegiate wrestling career, Lesnar went to the WWE for lack of a better option. Before realizing that professional wrestling wasn't for him, Lesnar reached the pinnacle of that industry. After leaving pro wrestling, Brock tried his hand at professional football and was the last man the Vikings cut. Then the rise of MMA, and Lesnar saw an opportunity to be a pro athlete again.
Brock Lesnar is a natural athlete, no one ever argued that, but after his first win in the UFC, I saw someone who knew what it meant to be a fighter, but not what it meant to be a martial artist. I was immediately turned off by his professional wrestling attitude and behavior. A lot of MMA fans saw Brock as bad for the sport, and I was included in that group. His athletic ability and talent is undeniable, but at that point, his character was in question. Certainly after UFC 100, even Brock's remaining fans had to have been, if nothing else, surprised by his post fight antics. For me that was it, Brock Lesnar may have had the belt, but he wasn't a champion.
Diverticulitis. Forget his career, Brock's life was in danger, and even his detractors, including myself, were all concerned. To defeat that illness, the way Lesnar did, showed the heart of a champion. The stories of the doctors waiting until the final hour, and his fever breaking in the operating room, are well known and miraculous. The holistic medicinal treatments Brock sought, and his new clean eating habits, clearly helped him heal quicker than anyone could have imagined. It is really a testament to Brock Lesnar's character, which is a character he previously did not show us enough of.
If there was criticism of Brock's fighting abilities, it was that his only skill was at bullying his opponents. After UFC 116 those criticisms were put to rest. He was the one who was bullied, and he came through like a true mixed martial artist. After surviving huge punishment in the first round, Brock took a huge chance in the second, leaving the mount position to transition into side control where Lesnar would then try to submit a fatigued Shane Carwin. Brock Lesnar has evolved from a wrestling bully, to martial artist who is a threat with his submissions, as well as with his ground and pound. In my predictions at <a href="http://www.MMABadAss.com" target="_blank">MMABadAss.com</a>, I said he could not stand and trade with Carwin, he needed to take the fight to the ground. I did not, however, see a submission victory coming! More importantly than his evolution as a fighter, is Brock Lesnar's evolution as a martial artist. I am sure he gained many fans back, and I am one of them. Especially after the way he behaved in his post fight interview and in the post fight press conference. After UFC 116 Brock Lesnar is now a true mixed martial artist, and Brock Lesnar is a true heavyweight champion. That's the evolution of Brock Lesnar.
Written by Keith Talarico of <a href="http://www.mmabadass.com" target="_blank">MMABadAss.com. </a>. Article originally posted on the FightLaunch.com MMA Blog.