By Eric Morken, Sports Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
The day-to-day lifestyle of rural America may not appeal to many celebrity figures, but life away from the limelight can be a welcome relief for some.
That is exactly the case for Brock Lesnar, who is quickly becoming a transcendent figure in the world of mixed martial arts. Lesnar has resided in the Twin Cities for years, but the Alexandria area is now the place he calls home.
â€œI couldnâ€™t wait to move here,â€ Lesnar said. â€œIâ€™m from a small town and I tell you what, everybody we have met has been very accommodating and welcomed us with open arms. Weâ€™re just really thankful for that.â€
The move to Alexandria was an easy decision for Lesnar because it brings him closer to his 6-year-old daughter, Mya. The two-hour commute from his house in the Twin Cities made it difficult for him to be involved in her life like he wanted to.
â€œShe started first grade this year,â€ he said. â€œWe were all settled in the Twin Cities, but your kids only grow up once, and I want to be a bigger part of it.â€
Lesnar and his wife, Rena Mero, moved into a house in Ida Township back in August, three months before Lesnar would take part in the fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title.
Lesnar brought his gym with him, moving it into a leased space in Alexandria where he went through an intense 10-week training schedule with the help of as many as 12 trainers. Lesnar can lose up to 8-10 pounds of water weight during his workouts, which often consist of two sessions a day.
â€œUsually in the early stages we go two-a-days, which consists of combat sessions in the morning and a cardio and weight routine in the evenings,â€ he said. â€œCloser to a fight, things get more intense and shorter. We fine tune our game plan and put all the pieces of the puzzle together.â€
He was able to put everything together in his fight against UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on November 15. Lesnar took the heavyweight title from Couture with a second-round TKO. The championship comes after only four UFC fights. It was a quick rise to the top that not even Lesnar himself saw coming.
â€œAbsolutely not,â€ he said, when asked if he expected so much success so soon. â€œWhen I first got into this, I thought, â€˜I am going to do everything in my power to become the best fighter I can become.â€™ Absolutely not, though. This dream came true a lot sooner than expected.
â€œFrom the first day I got the phone call saying that they were going to give me a title shot, I was ecstatic. At the same time, these opportunities come along maybe once in a lifetime and you need to do everything you can to take advantage of it.â€
Lesnar took full advantage with his knockout of Couture. Now he faces the task of trying to stay on top as the rest of the UFC heavyweight division tries to take him down. His first chance to defend his title will come against the winner of the Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira versus Frank Mir fight, which is set to take place at UFC 92 on December 27.
â€œI think I just need to keep working hard and keep an open mind,â€ Lesnar said. â€œI think some people can get very comfortable very quickly, and thatâ€™s not me. I try to better myself every day, and thatâ€™s just an every day living, not just on a competitive level, but trying to be a good father and a good husband. All that stuff trickles over into other things.â€
Perhaps his early success in the UFC should not come as such a surprise. Lesnar has a dominant wrestling background that has helped him make the transition.
He won the NCAA national wrestling championship in 2000 with the University of Minnesota after finishing as the runner-up in the heavyweight division in 1999. He ended his career with the Gophers as a two-time All-American.
Lesnar then went on to become a star in the World Wrestling Entertainment business where he became a three-time WWE champion. It was his desire to get back to the roots of fighting, though, that caused him to give up a career in the WWE and later pursue a life in mixed martial arts.
â€œThe most important thing to me was getting back to the grass roots of competition,â€ Lesnar said. â€œI started wrestling when I was 5 years old and continued to 21, 22 years old. Thatâ€™s the major reason â€“ competing again, doing something unscripted.â€
Lesnar has also gotten back to his roots with his move to the Alexandria area. He grew up on a farm outside of Webster, South Dakota, so his new location is one that suits him just fine.
â€œIâ€™m a country boy at heart,â€ he said. â€œNow Iâ€™m back in the country, and I love it.â€
Lesnar said he is excited to get more involved in the community, possibly helping out with the Cardinal wrestling program in any way he can. He knows what it takes to get to the highest level. It does not happen without a little help along the way.
â€œThe way things are going, Iâ€™d like to be a positive influence on as many kids as I can,â€ he said. â€œFor me as a young kid, I had a few role models growing up, and itâ€™s important for these kids to understand that just because they grew up in a smaller town â€“ I grew up in a town of 1,200 people and graduated with 54 kids in my class â€“ Itâ€™s important for kids to understand that anything is within reach.â€