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Muscle Sport Magazine

Was Lesnar-Mir UFC’s ‘Thrilla in Manilla?’

When boxing fans are asked what was the greatest fight of all time, the majority of them will say ‘The Thrilla in Manilla’ without hesitation. The third and final match-up between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier took place on October 1, 1975 in the Philippines and was even better than the first two battles between them.

After 14 exhausting rounds, Ali won by a TKO and the art of pugilism was never the same. Casual fans were hooked and a new generation of followers ensued.

This past Saturday night in Las Vegas, UFC 100 may have just helped the sport of mixed martial arts take that next step into the mainstream. The marquee bout was Brock Lesnar against Frank Mir, two names that are familiar outside of the inner circle.

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Lesnar, a larger than life character who is a former WWE superstar, scored a TKO over Mir at 1:48 of the second round to become the undisputed UFC Heavyweight champion and unify the two belts that the combatants each had.

There were 11 fights total on the card and although many were extremely entertaining (such as the Yoshihiro Akiyama-Alan Belcher Middleweight bout, voted the Fight of the Night), the one that will be spoken about – possibly for years to come – will be the main event.

Since MMA first burst onto the sports scene with the founding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993, it has grown immensely but still has more of a niche or cult following. The sport is not sanctioned in every state, with New York being a glaring hole. Many of the uninformed still consider it a ‘blood sport’ or ‘human cock fighting,’ part of the reason why MMA is still fighting to get the recognition it deserves.

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Over the years, colorful fighters such as Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell have become popular and recognizable even outside of the cage. While they have enjoyed success and held championships during their reign, Kimbo Slice may be even more recognizable in today’s pop culture even though he hasn’t done a thing.

All of that may have changed with the top league, UFC, having a barnburner with its pay-per-views hitting their century mark. Lesnar’s popularity may be at an all-time high, even though he is far from a crowd favorite. He added to that reputation by admittedly acting “unprofessional” following the win over Mir. Following what he called a “rip the dog” session from UFC head honcho Dana White, Lesnar apologized for his actions (and words) at a press conference.

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There was a lot of bad blood between the two headed into the contest and some of that poured over in the heat of battle and the immediate aftermath. Mir defeated Lesnar in the former wrestler’s octagon debut at UFC 81.

While some may view the unsportsmanlike conduct by Lesnar as a detriment, the other side of the coin is that the entertainment factor comes through even more when real human emotion takes over. Picture yourself having another shot at the guy who got the best of you last time in the alley outside the bar. This time around you kick his ass. Talking a little trash is sure to follow so put yourself in Lesnar’s shoes for a moment before passing judgment.

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BROCK LESNAR STATS

Age: 32

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 265 pounds

Reach: 81 inches

MMA Record: 4 wins, 1 loss (2 by knockout, 1 by submission)

WWF/WWE: 2002 through 2004

NFL: Minnesota Vikings (training camp, preseason), 2004

MMA Debut: 6/2/07, K-1 Grand Prix (win over Min Soo Kim, 1:08 1st round)

UFC Championship: 11/15/08, UFC 91 (2nd round TKO over Randy Couture)

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