Brock Lesnar is on an all-out media blitz to coincide with last night’s premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 13. He appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and showed up on SportsCenter Tuesday morning. He was on such a roll speaking with people that he even took some time to talk to me about his family, his next fight and coaching TUF.
Not many people have seen Brock since he lost his title to Cain Velasquez in October at UFC 121. Since Velasquez toppled Lesnar, he went home to Minnesota to hunt, fish and spend time with his family. That’s pretty much all he does when he’s not fighting, but coming off brutal loss, it led to a lot of speculation.
People thought he might be considering retirement or heading back to the fake fighting world. Turns out he was just hunting and hanging out with his family and lifting heavy things like always. When Dana White offered him a spot coaching against Junior dos Santos on season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter, he took it. “Well, I was asked by Dana to participate in the show. What it does is gives me an opportunity to fight Junior dos Santos and allows me a quicker path to a rematch back with Cain Velasquez for my championship.”
Surprisingly, the UFC had never approached Lesnar, their biggest pay-per-view draw about coaching TUF before. Probably because he was never in a position where he would have considered saying yes. Now, coming off a loss and having a book to promote (Death Clutch hits shelves in May) the timing was perfect.
“Well, I mean, it just so happens that I’ve got a lot going on. I’m not just promoting the fight. I’m promoting the show, promoting the fight, promoting the book, so I’m just in the spotlight now for those reasons. It’s just one of those things it’s part of my job. I’ve got to get out there and promote things I’m involved with.”
The real reason though, was a shot at Junior dos Santos with a rematch against Velasquez in mind. “Absolutely. It was was probably the main reason for doing so,” he said. You get the feeling that Lesnar adjusted to the press, but just wanted to get back to his farm.
When asked if he might be looking past dos Santos to Velasquez, he says no. “I haven’t. I have to go through Junior to get to Cain. It’s part of a plan. I’ve got to win this fight. Its an important fight for me to win. He’s between me and becoming a champion again so it’s a must win for me.”
While dos Santos is part of the plan of pain and destruction that ends with Lesnar holding “his” belt again, the show didn’t add much fuel to the fire by way of a rivalry with his opposing coach. “We didn’t run into each other a whole lot. The entire five and a half weeks we were there, I probably saw him for an hour total. With our training time differences. Except for the weigh-ins and the fights. I don’t know. It didn’t bother me none because I didn’t really see him.” Despite the lack of anger towards dos Santos that Brock usually has for his opponents, he still says he can’t wait for the fight.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Brock actually got into coaching. When Lesnar was first announced as a coach, many people thought he would just go through the motions. While last night’s first episode only showed Lesnar starting to get to know his team, it was a positive experience. “I enjoyed it. I learned a lot. Being a coach and teaching these guys. You have to break things down and I learned a lot.”
Lesnar is as surprised as anyone that he liked it. “I really did. I was really surprised. I got out of my comfort zone. I got out of Minnesota and down to Las Vegas and discovered some good things and some bad things about myself and it was a good process. A good training process for me.”
While coaching was wonderful and he learned about himself through the process, don’t expect him to change his alpha male, all-heavyweight training practices. In the past, coaches have assimilated fighters from their teams to their own camps after the show ends. Brock won’t be bringing anyone new to Minnesota. “These guys are 170 pound guys. No, I wouldn’t bring them in as training partners, no, but there is a guy that I’ll be doing a little more work with in the future.
Well, I mean I was there to be a coach. it’s one of those things where I had a job to do and that was to coach these guys. You know, help them win the show and that was my job.
The night before I spoke with Lesnar, he appeared on Jimmy Fallon. It was probably the first time in history that a former UFC champion had been interviewed by two College of Saint Rose graduates in a 24-hour period. Lesnar looked like he had a good time on Late Night and he confirmed it with a simple, “Yeah, he’s a good guy.”
Lesnar brought his family with him to Las Vegas during the taping of the show. To promote last night’s premiere of The Ultimate Fighter, he was away for a few days. “It’s business as usual back in Minnesota,” he assured me. “I’m very involved as a father. I had a good year hunting. I had a good year fishing. Now I’ve got to have a good year fighting.”
The Ultimate Fighter airs Wednesdays at 9. Images courtesy SpikeTV and the UFC.