Nearly five years after his last visit to the UFC Octagon, The debate wondering if Brock Lesnar is a professional wrestler or mixed martial artist rages on and needs a true expert to weigh in. Call in the soundtrack to every 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s baby’s Monday nights.
Jim Ross broke on to the professional wrestling scene in the mid-70s and was the voice behind some of its most memorable moments. Behind the curtain, Ross made a life out of developing and mentoring regional talent, and it’s very likely that your favorite wrestler was under the tutelage of Ross, and in some cases, your favorite mixed martial artist was, too.
“Brock’s origins, his roots, were steeped in amateur wrestling,” Ross said. “When I recruited Brock Lesnar to come to WWE, he had just won the national championship, NCAA heavyweight Division 1 at the University of Minnesota. Brock has been a wrestler and in combat his entire life. He was born for that stuff.”
The future WWE heavyweight champion was hard to miss after taking home collegiate gold, but few would be able to mold Lesnar into the household powerhouse he immediately became. It was his transition to the Octagon where Lesnar’s expectations met the hype.
With the tangibles Ross observed long before Lesnar’s historic runs in both pro wrestling and MMA, immediate success came as little surprise.
“He was a hell of a striker,” Ross explained. “Those massive hands looked like Virginia Baked Hams, but he knew how to wrestle. He could take somebody down; he could take anybody down.”
Size was there, strength was there and with enough grit in Lesnar to drive five average men to great heights, Ross was watching his vision for Lesnar play out equally as successful in an entire second entity.
The jolt that Lesnar gave to the WWE had nearly an identical ripple effect in the UFC. Equally immediate title runs, oversized, obnoxiously athletic - Ross watched as Lesnar’s MMA career came and went, and despite watching him main event less than half the UFC PPVs as he had in the WWE, it’s still too close to call.
“He was a little bit of both, quite frankly,” Ross said. “I’m sitting on the fence here, but he was successful in both genres. He’s made a lot of money doing both.”
Now at All Elite Wrestling, Ross is gearing up for “Double or Nothing,” the first PPV back with 100% fan capacity, and he’s just as amped up as he was when he got things started back in 1974.
“I’ve been with some really great companies since 1974 and this is the most fun job I’ve had,” Ross said. “In my stage in life I feel compelled to give back and help these kids as much as I can.”
And who knows, maybe the next Brock Lesnar is out there waiting to be discovered.
Catch Jim Ross on All Elite Wrestling Wednesday nights on TBS and on AEW’s Double or Nothing PPV, and relive all of your favorite Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, and Bobby Lashley moments, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!