The UFC made headlines this past weekend when they announced the return of Brock Lesnar. The former UFC heavyweight champ will return to action at UFC 200 which begs the question? What’s in it for the WWE and Vince McMahon.
UFC 199 saw one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, yet all anyone is talking about is the return of Brock Lesnar. A short video of Lesnar played during UFC 199 and it was later confirmed that Lesnar is scheduled to fight at UFC 200. An opponent will be named shortly, yet most of the rumors are pointing towards Mark Hunt.
The fight would mark the return of the biggest draw in UFC history up until Ronda Rousey and Connor McGregor broke out. Lesnar is coming off of two TKO losses, one of which saw Lesnar lose the UFC heavyweight championship. Lesnar hasn’t fought since 2011. Lesnar struggled with diverticulitis for the last couple of years of his UFC run. Lesnar has not fought since he believes to have beaten diverticulitis.
While Lesnar hasn’t fought since 2011, he has flirted with a return to the octagon several times. There was the time that he reportedly agreed to fight Fedor Emelianenko in 2012 before Fedor pulled out of the negotiations after his father passed away. Brock also strongly teased a return to the UFC last year before re-signing with the WWE. Ironically, Lesnar said he would never fight again after signing his last WWE contract.
“I’m officially closing the door on the sport of MMA. I signed last night with the WWE. We came to a conclusion last night. The offer on the table I couldn’t refuse. I think it’s fair to the fans, and I want to be fair to the fans to know that on Sunday, I’m going to hold that damn belt. It was public knowledge and it was out there as to, What is Brock going to do?”
And here we are a little over a year later and that door has been kicked wide open again. The first question that came to anyone’s mind was how the fight could happen with Lesnar under contract to the WWE? The WWE immediately sent out word that the fight was real and cleared up any misgivings about Brock’s contractual status with the company.
“Brock Lesnar remains under contract to WWE, however, he has been granted a one-off opportunity to compete at UFC 200. Following this milestone event on July 9, Brock will return to WWE for SummerSlam on Sunday, August 21, live on WWE Network”
So why in the world would the WWE allow its biggest draw currently under contract to take a real fight and put himself in a situation that would harm his value as a draw to the company? On the surface it makes no sense? Yet immediate speculation points to a very interesting scenario that may be developing between the WWE and the UFC.
Some speculated that Lesnar had a clause in his WWE contract that allowed him to take a UFC fight several months before a WrestleMania. However, the more logical explanation is that the WWE and the UFC worked out some kind of an arrangement or “trade” that gives Lesnar to the UFC for one night in exchange for Ronda Rousey or Conor McGregor wrestling at WrestleMania 33.
I can’t think of another plausible scenario that makes any sense here. I can’t imagine that the WWE would re-sign Lesnar with any kind of a clause that puts their investment at risk. However, with all of the problems the UFC had thus far with the 200 show, Dana White knew he had an ace up his sleeve. He knew that Ronda Rousey wanted to wrestle at WrestleMania, the WWE wants her, and Brock can be had for the right price. It’s a deal that makes sense for all sides.
WrestleMania 32 was an unequivocal success. However, the one thing missing from Mania this year was the “showcase” match or the special star. Making this deal now ensures that the WWE will have one of the two biggest draws in sports in their ring. Ronda Rousey appears to be non-committal to her MMA career with a blossoming career in Hollywood. Now that her priorities are clear, why not give her the deal she wants while getting one of their biggest drawing cards back.
I would have to presume that if there is indeed a trade worked out, all parties will remain mum in order to keep it a surprise. I’d also presume that we’ll know quickly and an angle will be shot at SummerSlam to confirm the rumors.