Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a tough sport and a ruthless business.
It is also a huge international platform for the world’s best martial artists to display and test their skills against one another. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) being the world’s top MMA promotion as of today, boasts a respectable roster of such talented and hard-working MMA fighters.
However, contrary to popular perception of combat sports being dominated by brutes, several top UFC athletes have reminded us time-and-again about the amount of passion and love that they have for our beloved sport of MMA.
The amount of hard-work, blood, sweat and tears that goes into the preparation and performances that are delivered to MMA fans by the fighters, cannot be over-exaggerated. And, regardless of the pre-fight animosity and trash-talk between most UFC combatants, at the end of the day it’s all about respect.
The sport of MMA involves not only the exhibition of martial arts skills and near-superhuman athletic feats but also gives us a chance to witness the softer side of our insanely tough athletes. A few such instances involving the emotional side of our favourite athletes have made our list:
#5 Brock Lesnar’s miraculous comeback
Brock Lesnar (5-3-1) is a former UFC Heavyweight (HW/265-pound) Champion, who has a long list of accomplishments in the American amateur wrestling circuit including the NCAA- Div 1 Heavyweight championship. His MMA base is wrestling, and he utilises this to secure top position and finish his opponents with his vaunted ground-and-pound.
Shane Carwin (12-2) is a former Interim-UFC HW champion with an NCAA-Div 2 background and an MMA base of wrestling and boxing. Lesnar and Carwin are known to use the biggest gloves in the UFC, 4XL and 5XL respectively.
Lesnar won the UFC HW strap by knocking out MMA legend Randy Couture at UFC 91 in 2008 and unified the UFC HW title by knocking out Frank Mir at UFC 100 in 2009. His next title defence was scheduled to be against Carwin, however, in late-2009 it was revealed that Lesnar was suffering from mononucleosis.
Furthermore, doctors diagnosed that Lesnar was suffering from diverticulitis that resulted in the mononucleosis, which in turn endangered his future in the sport. Lesnar was out of action and in the meantime Carwin beat Mir in an interim-HW title matchup scheduled at UFC 111 in early 2010.
Lesnar would return to face Carwin at UFC 116 in July of 2010 in his career’s second title-unification bout and in a battle of giants, ‘The Beast Incarnate’ prevailed.
Carwin who was known for his brutal one-punch-KO power caught Lesnar with a huge right hand and knocked him down. Carwin, also successfully shucked off takedown attempts from Lesnar and continued to unleash violent flurries of heavy leather on his stunned opponent.
He knocked Lesnar to the mat and continued his assault with heavy ground-and-pound shots, almost finishing him in the first round. Lesnar survived and started off round 2 by smiling and winking at Carwin in an ominous manner.
He then proceeded to time an excellent double-leg takedown, taking Carwin to the mat and working step-by-step toward a beautiful arm-triangle submission. Lesnar submitted the-then undefeated Carwin and unified the UFC HW title yet again.
He went on to climb the Octagon fence and in what is now one of the most iconic pictures in MMA history, proceeded to mockingly punch himself on the chin. This peculiar post-fight celebration was a shot at his critics who had always stated Lesnar’s inability to take a shot.
By coming back from a life-threatening illness to reclaim his UFC HW title and shutting up critics who mocked his pro-wrestling (WWE) background, Lesnar etched his name in UFC history and cemented his status as one of MMA’s most improbable stories.