Monday, Sept. 28, 2009 | midnight
Even in this crowd, where the athletes are as chiseled as Adonis himself, Brock Lesnar finds a way to stand out.
OK, so the UFC heavyweight champ might be a little less cut than the Jay Cutlers in the competition, but the former WWE star once again had no problem stealing the spotlight Saturday at Mr. Olympia at the Orleans.
“It went well. I did an autograph signing and had a good showing, a good fan base out there. I think my popularity has kind of exploded,” said Lesnar, who was in town for the bodybuilding competition to promote the Dymatize Nutrition products he endorses. “I've been to a lot of different autograph signings for my sponsors, but (lately) it’s been a sellout crowd every time.”
Part of that no doubt stems from the show the massive Lesnar put on during his last visit to Las Vegas, when he taunted opponent Frank Mir and UFC fans alike after his dominant victory at the historic UFC 100 event at Mandalay Bay.
But Lesnar makes no apologies for his actions, which included a double-bird salute to the crowd, and says much like his professional wrestling career, he is comfortable playing MMA’s biggest villain.
“People spend money and want to be entertained. If you don’t feel from UFC 100 that you got your money’s worth, you’re probably not gonna tune into something (with me). It’s good entertainment,” continued Lesnar, who also took part in a photoshoot for the UFC this weekend.
“The old saying … bad press, good press — it’s all the same. Visibility is the key. Making attention, good or bad or whatever people’s opinion is on it, I guess we’re still out there. We’re climbing.”
It’s been a quick ascent up the UFC’s largest mountain.
“I’m enjoying it. I didn’t come into this with any expectations, really,” said Lesnar, who after losing his UFC debut to Mir in February 2008, claimed the heavyweight crown against legend Randy Couture at UFC 91 in November.
Lesnar’s successful title defense and crowd-inciting antics on the UFC’s biggest night in July have only fueled anticipation for his next fight against Shane Carwin.
The 6-foot-3, 262-pound Carwin — who, like Lesnar, is a fellow in NCAA wrestling champ — offers the Webster, S.D., native his biggest physical test to date.
But neither the Colorado native’s extreme size or his unblemished 11-0 record seems to faze Lesnar.
“He’s a tough guy. He’s undefeated, but some of the guys he’s beaten aren’t worthy of having on your record,” said Lesnar, who squares off against Carwin at UFC 106 on Nov. 21 at Mandalay Bay. “He hasn’t fought anybody. He’s fought (Gabriel) Gonzaga, so I really think he’s 1-0.
“He’s a tough guy and a wrestler. But he’s a Division II national champion — enough said.”
Lesnar, a Division I heavyweight champ while at the University of Minnesota in 2000, emphasized that much like this weekend’s stop in Las Vegas, when he’s in town, he’s the star of the show. And he said he's ready for Carwin's challenge.
“I don’t know what he is, 11-0, 10-0, but he’ll have a loss against Brock Lesnar,” Lesnar said with a stone face.
Andy Samuelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-948-7837.