What happens when a freight train collides at full speed with an unmovable object? When Godzilla meets King Kong? When Goku finds himself standing eye to eye with Superman? At UFC 200, we're about to find out.
Brock Lesnar is among the most imposing athletes to ever step into the cage. He's 75 inches of farm boy muscle, a living, breathing hurricane disguised as a man. Few in human history have moved that much mass with so much frightening speed. The results speak for themselves, a trifecta unprecedented in combat sports history—NCAA, WWE and UFC gold.
In another time, in another place, Brock Lesnar sat upon a throne, an enormous flagon of mead in one hand and a buxom wench in the other, laughing about the lamentations of your women and the look on your face as his sword cleaved head from body. He's fire, he's murder, he's blood. This is a man who not only doesn't need your love—he doesn't want it. How dare you even presume to love such a man? You aren't worthy. No one is.
This, however, is a more civilized time. This isn't an era meant for a man like Brock Lesnar. Rather than submit humbly to his rule, we gawk, making a spectacle of his power, a show of his prowess. He lives in the wilds of Canada, away from the trappings of modern man, aware, if only subconsciously, that he doesn't belong. That someone of his pure physicality is a man who could never move with comfort through this world of microaggressions and safe spaces.
No man born could humble Brock Lesnar. But mother nature despises a void, and stepped in to do the dirty work herself. His own body, it turns out, was the culprit, with a disease by the name of diverticulitis laying him low. It was, in its own way, a testament to Brock Lesnar himself—a diet low in fiber and rich in animal meat he likely slew with his own bare hands proved too much.
Felled by his own righteous disdain for salads and a tiny hole in his intestines, Brock Lesnar nearly died in the wilds of Manitoba. But a man born to destroy deserves a hero's death, not the ignominy of a writhing demise in the back of a car on the long journey to Bismarck, North Dakota. Brock Lesnar refused to die.
Unfortunately, his athletic career in the Octagon never quite recovered. Opponents eventually dispatched him, giants disguised as men like Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem. But they knew the hidden hand of fate that acted on their behalf. We all did. They beat the shell of Brock Lesnar, the body.
When he retired from the cage to the ring, many breathed a sigh of relief. It was difficult, after all, to watch such a potent man swing in vain at his own imperfections, the weakness of his own body. But swords don't often stay hung on walls. They belong in hands, like combatants belong on the field of battle. Brock Lesnar deserves this—either a triumphant return or a warrior's death. Nothing else feels quite right.
To most people, such a man is terrifying beyond comprehension, terrifying in the little crannies of our minds designed to keep us alive. But Mark Hunt is not an ordinary man. The former kickboxing champion is an anthropomorphized tree trunk, a striking machine with a heart of gold and a surfer's relaxed attitude.
The average man would blanch at the thought of Brock Lesnar charging in their direction, spittle flying, face turned from pale white to an odd shade of purple in the blink of an eye. Mark Hunt? Mark Hunt just shrugs and says, "fuck it." He'll meet that Beast in the middle of the cage, more than willing to pit his powers against any man breathing the same air.
Mark Hunt is defined by his peculiarities. Everything about him is wrong. He's too short, too slow, his reach too short. There's something slightly absurd about this man daring to walk into the ring with the sculpted Adonises of the sports world. But dare he does, over and over again, for 16 years against the best the world's two most dangerous sports have to offer.
Mark Hunt is not the picture of perfection. He's grizzled in a way only prize fighters and lumberjacks are, pieces missing, dented, and damaged. There's an air of bemused confusion that surrounds him, as if the everyday task of just living is a bridge too far. This is a man you have to remind to brush his teeth in the morning, a man who is constantly wondering where his keys are and what he was supposed to pick up at the store.
He's a man who has seen some things, a gladiator who has swung swords with a succession of Goliaths and somehow came out the other side. And his performance reflects that. Twenty four times as a professional he's watched the other man's hand raised high. Even his moment of greatest triumph, victory in the 2001 K-1 Grand Prix, came only after the fighter who vanquished him couldn't continue. But Mark Hunt could continue. Continuing into the storm, standing firmly while demons fly, is what he does.
Ten years ago Mark Hunt was a punchline, the aging fighter making a living as a punching bag, the triumphs of his youth good only to guarantee another payday, another chance for a lesser man to stand on his shoulders and feel, however briefly, like a giant. Six consecutive losses looked likely to define him, to declare his accomplishments a fluke, to say loudly and clearly that critics were right after all, that a man who looks like Mark Hunt has no business in the ring with his betters.
And then a funny thing happened—Mark Hunt relaxed.
The pressure gone, he let the sport come to him. If he stood still, his giant legs rooting him to the ground, he could defend against takedowns. His issues with reach would disappear too, opponents forced to come into his den, on his terms. And, on his terms, Mark Hunt had the power, the will, to compete with anyone. Bodies began hitting the floor—and they haven't stopped since.
When the bell rings, Brock Lesnar will charge for a takedown. Mark Hunt will stand firm, waiting to unleash his deadly counter left hook. I ask again—What happens when a freight train collides at full speed with an unmovable object? I don't know. But I damn sure intend to find out.
(Images via MMAWeekly.com)