Gracie Barra’s Roger Gracie and UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
Over the weekend I got to thinking about UFC heavyweight Brock Lesnar‘s comments after soundly defeating Frank Mir at UFC 100. When he was presented the microphone, Lesnar made a string of remarks which spanned the gamut from being disrespectful to fans, sponsors, and his opponent. Now that I think about it, I am pretty sure the only person he did not insult was UFC president Dana White which would have probably been a really bad idea.
Lesnar now has apologized for his statements. Knowingly or not, the things Lesnar said will sell many pay-per-views for the UFC, as everyone likes to see the bad guy get what is coming to him. I get that. It’s apparent at first glance and has been explained in a gazillion places online like this nice writeup from MMAPayout.
But come on… seriously? Did Lesnar need to share that he feels he pulled a horseshoe out of Frank Mir’s backside? Did he need to flip off the crowd? Even in the heat of the moment, how many of us would think to behave that way?
Let’s compare the 2009 Brazilian jiu-jitsu absolute champion Roger Gracie with Brock Lesnar, who actually have a lot in common. Both are huge men who are really good at what they do. Facing Roger Gracie in competition is a question of not whether you will survive, but how long you can avoid being tapped. An octagon fight against Brock Lesnar means another countdown to an inevitable bloody defeat for his opponent. When you look at either you ask yourself, “who in the world can beat this guy?!”
At the same time, the two could not be any different.
In the multiple occasions we have interviewed Roger Gracie for The FightWorks Podcast, his soft-spoken manner usually leaves me trying to push my audio recorder closer to his face for fear of not catching what he is saying. (My respect for his ability to mount and choke every human he feels like prevents me from invading his space too much.) He is calm and completely respectful when you ask him about the throngs of very, very tough guys who have tried to end his streak of invincibility.
Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the behavior of the 2009 Brazilian jiu-jitsu absolute champion Roger Gracie. I’m not posting this to say Roger Gracie is a better champion than Brock Lesnar, or that he is a better sportsman than Lesnar. What I am saying is that for me, I prefer a champion that is easy to admire for his ridiculous athletic ability and how he carries himself.
Yes, it’s probably true that Roger Gracie will never generate the revenues that Brock Lesnar has and will in his career. But I could care less.
(In some subconscious way, am I suggesting that the culture in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community is superior to that to that of the MMA world? Am I a BJJ elitist? I don’t know. Shred me in the comments below if you think I deserve it.)