Brock Lesnar just became the most recognized heavyweight champion in the world.
Yes, the days of boxing ruling the fight world are gone.
On Saturday night, Lesnar defeated UFC legend Randy Couture in front of a sold out crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and moved into the pantheon of recognition that used to belong to Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, or Mike Tyson.
It’s clear now the UFC is the most significant fight game in the United States and as the new heavyweight champ, Lesnar now reigns as the most important fighter in America.
In the second round, the behemoth Lesnar, 31, caught Couture, 45, with a solid punch near Couture’s right temple and dropped “The Natural.”
Lesnar pounced with a series of lightly defended punches to Couture’s cranium.
In all honesty, referee Mario Yamasaki probably gave Couture extra time to try to stave off Lesnar before finally stepping in to end Couture’s punishment 3:07 into the second round.
And with that flurry, Lesnar became the most dangerous man in the fight game today.
Don’t want to or can’t believe it?
Well, I spent Saturday afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese and the UFC 91 bout between Lesnar and Couture was being discussed among the dads alongside college football and the Cowboys.
The fight was expected to draw more than 1 million pay-per-view buys. Considering sports bars and well -- those other male establishments -- were airing the bout; it’s pretty safe to say four or five million people witnessed Lesnar’s victory.
After the fight Lesnar said, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. I want to thank [UFC president] Dana [White], the UFC and Randy Couture. It takes a lot of (heart) to take a year off and fight a young buck like me.”
The "young buck" statement is perhaps the most significant in Lesnar’s post fight comments.
The fall of Couture coupled with Chuck Liddell’s fall from the top of the light heavyweight division suggests a new era in UFC. The old legends have been replaced by younger, more marketable personalities.
So what’s next for Lesnar?
Ultimate Fighter coaches Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will fight to determine Lesnar’s next opponent in the reality show’s finale next month.
More importantly, the UFC has to figure out how to get Fedor Emelianenko into the octagon.
Top to bottom, the UFC is the deepest MMA organization in terms of talent. However, Emelianenko remains UFC elusive but among the Top-5 lists of any legitimate MMA observers when it comes to heavyweight contenders.
The splintering of boxing associations remains one of the key reasons MMA has risen above the sweet science.
But if UFC can’t learn from history or its own success some other organization or upstart sport will rise and in the next decade people will ask, what happened to UFC?
One final question, with Lesnar closer to 280 pounds at fight time should the UFC add a Super Heavyweight division?
* Earlier in the night, monster heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga (10-3) crumpled UFC debutant Josh Hendricks (18-5) with a brutal right hand. The straight right dropped Hendricks and another shot to the prone Hendricks ended the fight after a mere 1:01.
* Jeremy Stephens’ uppercut knockout of Rafael dos Anjos certainly earned him a berth into anyone’s knockout of the year debate.
* Kenny Florian’s victory against Joe Stevenson by rear-naked choke sets up a stellar matchup against B.J. Penn for the 155 pound, lightweight title come 2009.