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Brock Lesnar retires after 1st round loss

 

Even in defeat, Brock Lesnar is nothing less than memorable. After a disastrous 1st round loss to highly-regarded striker Alistair Overeem, the UFC's main attraction called it quits -- for good. "Tonight was the last night you will see me in the Octagon," Lesnar told the sold-out Las Vegas crowd. He added (in the third person): "Brock Lesnar is officially retired." On Friday night, the 265-pound heavyweight found himself in the fight of his life after returning to mixed martial arts from a 14 month hiatus. In that time, a second bout with the intestinal disease diverticulitis resulted in 12 inches of his colon being removed. It was a lot to come back from. Too much, it seems.

In Overeem, Lesnar faced an opponent every bit as large (263 pounds at weigh-ins) and just as agile (the Dutchman was a multiple champion in other fight promotions). Friday's fight began with a short feeling-out process. Overeem met Lesnar in the center of the Octagon, where the former WWE star was light on his feet, fainting punches and a couple of kicks. Overeem, on the other hand, stayed low, ducking several of Lesnar's awkward attacks.

As the two engaged, Lesnar bloodied Overeem's right eye. But it had little effect on his opponent. Overeem followed with a succession of punishing knees to Lesnar's mid-section. The knees (honed during his kickboxing career) came one after another, Lesnar visibly shaken. A final kick to the gut sent Lesnar to the ground, gasping. Overeem went in for the kill with a stream of unanswered punches until referee Mario Yamasaki called the stoppage at 2:26 of the first round. The crowd was stunned.

Afterward, Joe Rogan met Overeem in the cage for the obligatory post-fight interview. "Today was all about bad intentions," Overeem said. Happy with himself, Overeem reminded fans that he had promised a first or second round finish, and he delivered. Rogan then acknowledged the Dutchman's next task -- a title shot at champion Junior Dos Santos, who stood waiting in the Octagon.

But a theatrical stare down between the two wasn't in the cards. All eyes were on Lesnar, who was ready for his post-fight interview too. It was then that Lesnar delivered the stunning news. "I've had a really difficult couple of years," he said, referencing his disease and losing his belt in Oct. 2010. He had promised his wife that if he should lose to Overeem, he would retire with a record of 5-3.

And graciously, he thanked his opponent, thanked the UFC and thanked the fans for watching his short but spectacular four-year run in the UFC. His humility was almost unbecoming of a man who prided himself on being "the baddest man on the planet." But in this same run -- which included winning the heavyweight championship after only four fights -- Lesnar has proven to be full of surprises.

 

Former Gopher star Cole Konrad ready for championship gold

 

 

(Neil Grove and Cole Konrad. Photo courtesy of Bellator Fighting Championship)
 

 

Former NCAA wrestling champion Cole “The Polar Bear” Konrad is looking to add another championship to his resume when he steps into the Bellator Fighting Championship cage tomorrow night.

The former University of Minnesota wrestler will take on UFC veteran fighter Neil Grove in the finals of Bellator’s heavyweight tournament live on FSN North.

Konrad (6-0) is best known in mixed martial arts circles for being a training partner of UFC heavyweight champion and former Minnesota wrestler Brock Lesnar. While Konrad has been training with Lesnar for a couple of years, his official MMA career started earlier this year, going 2-0 on the independent circuit before winning four in a row in Bellator.

Grove is originally from South Africa and has a 10-2 record with one draw. One of those losses was in his only appearance in the UFC, at UFC 95. He’s 2-0 in Bellator, defeating Eddie Sanchez and then Alexey Oleinik in the Bellator tournament.

“This fight against Neil will be the biggest fight of my career,” Konrad told Bellator.com. “Winning the championship would definitely be a big deal for me.

“I've been training hard for a long time now, and I would basically look at the title as a reward for all of the hard work I've put in. I want that belt. I don't know if I have any jeans that the belt will fit through, but I'm sure we can work something out.”

The two fighters have arrived in the final round through different paths. Both of Grove’s victories came via TKO due to strikes in the first round, while all of Konrad’s fights in Bellator have gone to a decision. 

“I see my ability to finish fights as an advantage against Cole,” Grove said. “I also think my size and my overall level of fitness will be factors that will work to my advantage. I want to avoid letting him set the pace.”

Konrad will rely heavily on his wrestling to lead him to the championship. 

“Obviously my wrestling will be an advantage,” Konrad said. “I think my ground game is considerably better than his. That would be my biggest advantage, but outside of that, my overall training environment trumps his. I'm used to seeing big, strong, fast guys on a daily basis. I just have to avoid that big right hand of his, but that's about it."

Championship fights are five 5-minute rounds, instead of the regular three 5-minute rounds, which Konrad believes will also be an advantage for him.

“Any time Neil has gone longer than two minutes he can barely keep his hands up high enough to throw a punch. I'm used to going the distance. Granted, I haven't gone to a 4th or 5th round in my career, but third, fourth, fifth, it makes no difference. If you know how to compete when you're tired, you know what you have to do,” Konrad said.

Konrad has also been an integral part of Lesnar's training camp leading up to his title defense next Saturday against Cain Valasquez at UFC 121. Konrad and Valasquez faced each other three times in NCAA competition, including victories by Konrad in the semi-finals of both the 2005 and 2006 NCAA tournament.

The fight will be broadcast live nationally from Kansas City on the Fox Sports Network, but because of the Minnesota Wild hockey game, it will be delayed locally on FSN North until 1:30 a.m.