Brock Lesnar’s notoriety as a World Wrestling Entertainment champion and headliner has created great interest in his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut on Saturday night against former UFC champion Frank Mir.
But because his fame comes from scripted entertainment, many aren’t aware of his successes in legitimate athletic competition.
Lesnar was 106-5 in four years of college wrestling, winning the junior college national championship in 1998 and the Division I championship for the University of Minnesota in 2000, both as a heavyweight.
High-level amateur wrestling is a great asset in mixed martial arts, as many of UFC’s biggest stars all have a substantial wrestling background, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, Dan Henderson, Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Diego Sanchez, Rashad Evans, Tito Ortiz, Clay Guida, Keith Jardine, Roger Huerta, Jake O’Brien, Frankie Edgar, Matt Hamill, Brandon Vera, Gray Maynard, Corey Hill, Matt Grice and others.
But wrestling success is no guarantee of MMA success. For every Couture or Dan Severn, both of whom competed on the U.S. national team in international competition and are among only a few fighters in the UFC Hall of Fame, there are great wrestlers, including national champions and Olympians, who have gone nowhere in MMA.