Dana White and the UFC convened an emergency conference call yesterday to announce that human orca Brock Lesnar has come down with diverticulitis for a second time and will pull out of his fight against Junior Dos Santos at UFC 131. What, you may ask, is diverticulitis? The National Center for Biotechnology Information has the answer:
No one knows exactly what causes the sacs, or pouches of diverticulosis to form. Eating a low-fiber diet is one of the most likely causes.
People who eat mostly processed food, as many Americans eat, do not get enough fiber in their diet. Processed foods include white rice, white bread, most breakfast cereals, crackers, and pretzels.
As a result, constipation and hard stools are more likely to occur — causing people to strain when passing stools. This increases the pressure in the colon or intestines and may cause these pouches to form.
Diverticulosis is very common. It is found in more than half of Americans over age 60. Only a small number of these people will develop diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis is caused by small pieces of stool (feces) that become trapped in these pouches, causing infection or inflammation.
Lovely. The image of a red-faced Lesnar puffing away on his toilet and swearing off pretzels comes to mind. As does the idea of Lesnar, despite what he said yesterday, retiring from combat sports atop his throne, undone by his own shit. It would make for a pitiable and apt end to Lesnar's MMA career, which has always been more bluster than bona fide. He's had only seven MMA fights. He became the heavyweight champion overnight by beating a 45-year-old Randy Couture whom he outweighed by 50 pounds.
From the start, the UFC deployed Lesnar as a WWE-style ticket-selling golem. He appeared cageside stuffed into odd-looking blazers, a predatory grin on his face, his blond rooster comb accentuating the smooth brick of his mug. He was a showman, a carnival attraction, the next great white hunter, imported to rile MMA fans and thrum the lesser desires of a professional wrestling crowd whose dollars the UFC also sought. And it worked. UFC 100, in which Lesnar avenged his loss to Frank Mir and afterward played the heel exquisitely, set a pay-per-view buy rate record for the company. His next fight against Shane Carwin earned the second biggest buy rate. (Four of the six top-selling cards in the UFC featured Lesnar, who has only appeared in six total UFC fights.)
But Lesnar was never a well-rounded champion with a legitimate claim to greatness. He was a Frankenstein monster, a freakishly large man who also happened to be ideal for promotional purposes and connecting with a broader audience. His skill set, particularly on his feet, was always in question. At UFC 121 last year, Cain Velasquez made Lesnar look silly with a first round TKO. At UFC 131 next month, Junior Dos Santos might well have punched Lesnar's head into the first row.
If this reads like an obituary to an athletic career, that's not the intention. Lesnar may recover from the inflamed feces-filled sacs in his colon and fight again. But he has served his purpose. Yes, Dana White and company will miss the money and promotional schwack the giant wrestler generates. Yes, they will be disappointed that the hype build-up for Lesnar vs. Dos Santos via "The Ultimate Fighter" show on Spike is now for naught. What Lesnar helped set into motion, however, is now accelerating under its own steam. The UFC has enough elite fighters to promote as many cards a year as logistics permit. The business continues to expand. The brand has made inroads into the far corners of American culture. A lot of that momentum is due to Lesnar, whose time in the UFC was short, spectacular and hugely influential. Maybe that time is over. Maybe not. At this point, though, it matters about as much as a diverticulitis nugget circling a drain.