Brock Lesnar is many things. He's a husband to his wife, Rena. He's a father to his daughter, Mya Lynn, and two sons, Turk and Duke. He's a farmer from the great state of South Dakota, who now lives in Minnesota. He's a former collegiate wrestler and professional wrestling superstar, where he was a champion and headlined major pay-per-view events as the face of the industry. He's a former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion and unequivocally the biggest star the sport of MMA has ever seen.
That's all well and good but it doesn't quite tell us who he is. Then again, a more pertinent question might be: why are we so fascinated with him?
On the surface, it's easy to see why we're so enamored. He's a physical specimen, so big that it comes across on video. In person, he's downright mesmerizing. He carries a certain charisma about him that makes him the center of attention whenever he walks into a room.
He's like gravity. It's impossible not to get drawn to him.
When Lesnar speaks, it doesn't kill the mystique. He's like the Sphinx in a way. The more you look at him to try to get a read on his expression, the more you think you see. In reality, you're not seeing anything at all. He has this odd ability to talk for any length of time without really ever saying anything. He's short and to the point, hardly ever making eye contact with whoever it is he's speaking with. If his presence weren't so commanding, and his demeanor so intimidating, you might mistake him for being shy.
Indeed, Brock has a reputation as a private man who simply hangs out in the woods hunting deer and taking care of his family on a ranch up in Minnesota. And that's true, to an extent.
But there's more to it than that.
Lesnar was first introduced to the public through his collegiate wrestling career but he didn't break into the mainstream conscience until his stint with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He first showed up on television on an episode of Monday Night Raw in March 2002, billed as a monster who just destroyed anyone in his path.
That probably sounds familiar to mixed martial arts (MMA) fans by now.
Brock's pro wrestling career can be defined, quite simply, by the fact that he was one of the most successful men to ever step inside the squared circle. He was the youngest man to ever win the WWE championship, he won the King of the Ring tournament, the Royal Rumble, he was a headliner at WrestleMania and remained near the top of the card throughout his entire run with the company.
That might all sound like hogwash to MMA fans but suffice to say, there are only a few who have ever accomplished as much in the span of entire 15-year careers. Lesnar did all this within just two.
He left the industry, though, because of the rigors of traveling on the road for 300 days a year and the toll wrestling took on his body. He was badly beaten up and while the money was good -- almost too good -- his life was spiraling out of control. Painkiller addiction wasn't far away and while he still had his wits about him, Brock busted out of the business.
A failed attempt to make it as a pro football player with his hometown Minnesota Vikings led him back to pro wrestling, this time over in Japan, where he was introduced to MMA. It wasn't long after that UFC President Dana White got his hands on him and signed him to a contract.
Just two fights later, Lesnar was competing for the most coveted belt in the sport, the UFC heavyweight championship. He brought a massive following with him and helped the promotion shatter previous box office records. His presence on a fight card alone is good for a minimum of 600,000 pay-per-view buys. Actually, his last four fights have sold over 1 million buys. That's a record that will likely never be broken.
This is a man who has found a great deal of success in nearly everything he's ever done. But that's not to say he hasn't had to fight through adversity. We've seen that in a number of different forms.
There was the time when Lesnar attempted a shooting star press during a pro wrestling match against Kurt Angle that resulted in his soaring through the air and landing on his neck, giving him a severe concussion and nearly paralyzing him forever. Unbelievably enough, Brock finished the match and even executed a few moves that required him to pick Angle up on his shoulders.
Yes, pro wrestling is fake, but this was an astounding feat.
We also saw him overcome the beefy bumrush of Shane Carwin, one of the few men who could match Lesnar in size and strength. "The Engineer" unloaded punch after punch on Lesnar's skull, cutting him up and nearly caving it in, before Brock battled back to submit Carwin in the second round. This was a comeback for the ages, perhaps the greatest comeback we've ever seen inside the Octagon.
Lesnar also endured a near two year battle with the deadly intestinal disorder, diverticulitis, that not only nearly ended his fight career, but damn near ended his life. He battled back from that, as well, even after doctors removed 12 inches of his intestines. His surgery happened in May and he'll be fighting one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world just seven months later.
Brock Lesnar is an amazing athletic specimen capable of incredible feats of intestinal fortitude. He's also a devoted family man who holds his cards close to his chest in his home life. Maybe tonight (Dec. 30) at UFC 141 he falls at the hands (or knees) of Alistair Overeem and heads back to disappear into the woods for the next six months. That scenario is entirely possible.
Or maybe he overcomes the odds once again and does something special that will leave all of us in awe and wondering how he pulled it off.
Either way, we'll be watching.