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Friday, December 30, 2011
Updated: January 1, 2:14 AM ET
Brock Lesnar goes out with a whimper

By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- A little more than one month ago, UFC president Dana White was critical of Cain Velasquez, one of his top heavyweight fighters, for implementing a very puzzling game plan against Junior dos Santos at UFC on Fox.

History, it seems, was doomed to repeat itself.

Heavyweight superstar Alistair Overeem (36-11) cruised to a first-round TKO victory over Brock Lesnar (5-3) Friday in the main event of UFC 141 inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

As outstanding as Overeem was, however, it's difficult not to wonder what exactly Lesnar's strategy was in the fight. The renowned wrestler attempted just one single-leg takedown in the 146-second fight.

Considering the former heavyweight champion rose, literally, to the top of the sport primarily by taking people down -- it seemed strange.

"I had the same assessment [as with Velasquez]," White said. "When you're in there with a striker you don't stand in his range. He was close that one time but didn't really commit to it.

"I'm nobody's trainer. I don't come up with the game plans. But I don't understand why he wouldn't take a shot. Who knows? He knows why he didn't. Cain knows why he didn't. I would have."

Alistair Overeem, Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar's assaults were few and far between against Alistair Overeem.

Lesnar retired from the sport of mixed martial arts immediately following the fight, admitting along the way that even had he won Friday, he had promised his wife he'd retire following the next one.

Apparently, he did a good job of hiding that information. White said he was surprised when Lesnar made the announcement and that there were no signs beforehand that he was close to calling it quits.

Overeem, who will move on to fight dos Santos for the title in 2012, even said he hoped Lesnar would change his mind.

"I think he shouldn't walk away because, love him or hate him, it's always something when Brock is fighting," Overeem said. "It would be a shame if he stops now."

Granted, if Lesnar's last performance in the Octagon proves disappointing, there are legitimate reasons as to why.

The 34-year-old battled back twice from the intestinal disease diverticulitis in the past three years. Earlier this year, he underwent a life-altering procedure that removed 12 inches of his colon.

He was also facing no slouch in the cage. Overeem is a 265-pound-plus athlete, who is known for being difficult to take down.

In Overeem's eyes, Lesnar failed to attempt takedowns not because of a strange game plan, but because of a rather painful knee he ate early in the fight.

"After that, he didn't come for the takedown," Overeem said. "After that, when he came in the clinch, he would disengage.

"Usually, Brock is a guy who comes straight through. He was not doing that."

Lesnar, who did not attend the postfight news conference, told White following the fight he felt as if his ribs might be broken. In the cage, after the outcome had been read, he announced his retirement -- simply stating to the fans, "You've been great."

Should this be the final time Lesnar fights, and it very much looks as though that's the case, it closes the door on a surprising and impressive career.

It ended about as abruptly as it began in 2007, when Lesnar fought his first professional fight and personally contacted White for a chance in the UFC. It took him just four fights and 18 months to claim the coveted UFC title over MMA legend Randy Couture.

Although White stated he will retire "under contract," the UFC president didn't argue with Lesnar's decision to leave and seemed to leave the door open for him to return to guest appearances in the WWE if he wants.

"Brock Lesnar made a lot of money and he achieved a lot of things," White said. "He came to me one night at the MGM, pulled me aside and said, 'I want to fight in the UFC.' I laughed. He came from the WWE and brought a lot of excitement.

"What that man accomplished in a short amount of time is amazing."

And in the end, that's how Lesnar will be remembered.

It is somewhat of a shame, though, that his final stand was so strange -- a man, known for panicking when he gets hit, choosing to stand in front of one of the most feared strikers in the entire sport.

Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.