For Brock Lesnar, will health be enough?

November, 12, 2011
11/12/11
9:58
AM ET
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com
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During a news conference Friday, Brock Lesnar joked it took “about six hours” for him to feel 100 percent after undergoing surgery to remove 12 inches of his colon in May.

Of course, the actual recovery time was slightly longer.

Lesnar, who returns to the Octagon against Alistair Overeem in December, told ESPN.com he spent “all summer” recovering from the procedure. The former champ resumed training in September, with most of the focus on regaining his strength.

“It was a matter of me getting back on my feet again,” Lesnar said. “Basically, these last 10 weeks, I’ve just been working on the fundamentals of getting back into shape.”

The good news is Lesnar has another seven weeks to prepare for his return and -- the even better news -- he’s confident his fight against Diverticulitis, the intestinal disease that has now threatened his life and suspended his fighting career, is over.
[+] EnlargeBrock Lesnar
Ed Mulholland for ESPN.comWill strength alone be enough to lift Brock Lesnar past the equally massive Alistair Overeem?

He says he hasn’t had to visit his doctor since the operation and he’s gotten back to eating certain foods he couldn’t before. Basically, he’s good.

“I don’t have any concerns of my health,” Lesnar said.

Here’s the potential bad news: Lesnar has now been training mixed martial arts for a little more than four years. During that period, twice he’s had to spend significant time away from the gym because of health problems.

Instead of spending the summer improving his boxing defense or offensive grappling, he spent it in recovery. He is, fundamentally, the same Brock Lesnar who lost the title to Cain Velasquez last October, with the one exception -- he’s healthy.

And to him, that difference matters the most.

“Elementary,” said Lesnar, when asked how he’s approaching his boxing and jiu-jitsu. “We’re still breaking it down to the basics.

“But I’ve been wrestling since I was five years old. That’s probably the hardest thing to learn. I’ve got a great core foundation that’s carried me this far. That, and being in the top 1 percent of the division as a physical athlete. I don’t think I’m behind the 8-ball in any factor because, now, I’m a healthy fighter.”

So, which do you believe? That Lesnar, when healthy, is still the most dominant heavyweight in the division? Or, because his condition has slowed his evolution as a fighter, he’s been passed up?

It’s not just the gym time Lesnar has lost due to the disease, either. He’s lost cage experience as well.
[+] EnlargeAlistar Overeem
Daniel Herbertson/Fightwire.comIt took Alistair Overeem numerous fights to learn how to deal with being chin-checked.

He reacted awkwardly after getting hit in back-to-back fights against Shane Carwin and Velasquez, prompting some to label him with a weak chin or poor composure. In his defense, Lesnar says few people react well to getting hit. It takes time to get used to such a thing.

“I don’t know anybody that really does [react well],” he said. “I guess that’s something I’ve got to work on. It’s just repetition. You’ve got to get in and have it happen.”

Overeem, who has 50 professional MMA fights, agreed.

“It took me 50 or 60 fights to get used to that,” Overeem told ESPN.com. “Now, I don’t care if I get hit. If I get hit, I’m going to give two back. But it took awhile to get there.”

During the Friday news conference in Santa Monica, the energy surrounding Lesnar’s anticipated return to the UFC was unquestionable. Like him or hate him, he proved to be an absolute force when healthy and now, finally, he’s healthy again.

Will that still be enough?

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