It probably says something about our culture that
The big man stole the show by beating rival
Lesnar essentially brought the lessons of the WWE into a legitimate fighting sport. The easiest reaction to elicit when you have a camera pointed at you and a mic in your face is disdain. It's not an accomplishment to make a group of fight fans hate you. All you have to do is be crass, arrogant and insulting. Lesnar touched all those bases in just a few minutes. Short of mocking the citizens of Las Vegas, he followed the pro-wrestling playbook perfectly.
Lesnar's decision to make a cartoon character out of himself isn't necessarily bad for MMA or the UFC (or at least it's not any worse than any of the NBA's villains over the years), though it's not exactly good, either. Negative attention is still attention -- that's a fact. But it's also cheaply won and easily forgotten once the antics become stale.
The sad part is that while Lesnar made headlines for being a textbook heel, one of the sport's best pure athletes and most dedicated martial artists -- UFC welterweight champ
I suppose it didn't matter that G.S.P. not only beat a pound-for-pound top 10 opponent, but thoroughly handled him for five rounds. That he fought the last half of the fight injured and, after winning the decision, showed his opponent, his employers, and all the fans in attendance the kind of respect befitting those who are making it possible for him to earn a very healthy living -- I guess that's just not as fun to talk about as a guy who parades around the cage with his middle fingers in the air and declares his vague intention to "get on top of" his wife.
While Lesnar returned to the locker room after his fight to get an earful from UFC president
St. Pierre is, in so many ways, what is best about this sport. He's a superb athlete with a nearly compulsive work ethic, who also treats his opponents and the sport itself with dignity and respect. After he beat
One of the great things about MMA is the variety of personalities involved. There's room for the Lesnars and the St. Pierres to co-exist. But at the same time it's disheartening to see the guy who is exactly the kind of fighter MMA has boasted of having for years -- the opposite of the raging, bar bouncer with no skills aside from brute strength -- be ignored while a 4-1 heavyweight with a big mouth and a bad attitude gets all the glory.
Lesnar can be the UFC's villain, and that's fine. But there are still some good guys out there, and they're easy to spot. They're the ones who aren't trying every trick in the book to get you to notice them for all the wrong reasons.