The biggest draw in MMA history may be heading back to the octagon. Brock Lesnar showed up at UFC 146 and as expected, reporters were asking a lot of questions after the show. Dana White answered and dropped a bombshell in the post-fight press conference.
When Dana was asked about it being unusual for Brock to be at a UFC event he reportedly he agreed. He then told reporters that Brock may possibly come back. He did not say definitively that he was coming back, but the door is now open. This could be the beginning of the biggest MMA story of the year. He also indicated that Brock called him in the middle of the week asking to come to the show but to keep it on the down low.
“Dana asked if anything more to Lesnar being here, he said yes. Possibly may come back” – https://twitter.com/KevinI/status/206609439988523009
“Dana agrees that it was unusual for Brock Lesnar to show up to a UFC event. Possible he might come back? Yeah.” – https://twitter.com/benfowlkesMMA/status/206609557655523329
Brock Lesnar retired from MMA last year at UFC 141. Brock told the crowd following a first-round TKO loss to Alistair Overeem that he was retiring from fighting. Brock told the crowd that if he won, he would have taken his UFC championship fight, and retired win or lose after that particular fight. It appeared that Brock was ready to walk away from MMA after battling diverticulitis for over two years.
Brock left the UFC and remained relatively quiet until he returned to the WWE. Brock signed a reported $5 million deal to return to the WWE for one year back in April. The deal would theoretically take him through WrestleMania 29. Brock has wrestled once and is currently involved in an angle with Triple H. Brock has been off television for a few weeks but is expected to return in a few weeks.
That is why Brock showing up at UFC 146 was a bit of a surprise. Brock said he was done with MMA, so why take a night away from his family to sit ringside for a fight? As always with Lesnar there was more to it and fight fans have to be licking their chops at the prospects of Lesnar returning.
Brock left MMA as one of the most polarizing fighters in the sport. Fans loved to hate him for most of his UFC run. Brock turned that corner quite a bit with a comeback performance against Shane Carwin. Brock turned this love/hate relationship with MMA fans into the biggest drawing card in the sport. When Brock Lesnar fought people watched. Brock still holds the record for the biggest buyrate with his UFC 100 buyrate against Frank Mir.
Here is what I wrote in my UFC 146 recap blog before this story broke. “Brock was actually at the show in the audience. I will make a prediction now and that is Brock Lesnar will fight again. I believe that when his WWE deal expires next April that he will make one more go at the UFC. There is just way too much money waiting for Brock in the octagon for him to stay away. Unfortunately I think his health will probably make it a one and done come back. I think Frank Mir is the opponent and I think they complete the trilogy in 2013.
As for the heavyweight division, it was painfully obvious to me how much the UFC and the division misses Brock Lesnar. I know that he is a polarizing figure to MMA fans but the UFC heavyweight division is not nearly as deep without him. Past Mir, Dos Santos, and Cain you have a pretty stale division. I understand Brock was on the downside due to his medical conditions, but he could have possibly put a short run together if he stuck around for one more year. Alistair Overeem had a shot at taking that spot but he is out of the mix until early next year. I know Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett are right around the corner, but they are hardly the intriguing fighter that Brock was.”
I can’t imagine that Brock would be able to fight before his WWE deal expires in April. However, the time frame would give him enough time to get a training camp together, attempt to get past whatever lingering health issues he may have, and get his mind right for a UFC return. Once again I predict that Lesnar will come back and fight Mir with his first fight. Big Foot Silva would be another interesting choice for Lesnar’s first fight back.
In terms of economics the move just makes sense. The WWE will probably not be interested in having him back for $5 million a year. Brock’s first match only saw an increase in under 40,000 buys and he did very little for the overseas market. While that isn’t a bad number, that is not what you want from someone you are paying $5 million a year to. I am sure Brock is getting a cut of the revenue as well and that cut is not going to be anywhere near what he’d get from a UFC fight. He could probably make in one comeback fight what he’d make in an entire year with the WWE. Its a no-brainer for Lesnar.
What is also interesting is that it was reported that Dana White has no problem with Lesnar doing both pro wrestling and fighting in the UFC at the same time. This makes me wonder whether Brock’s WWE deal does allow him to fight. Remember, a year or so ago when the WWE wanted Lesnar to wrestle the UFC wouldn’t let him due to his contract. I can’t imagine that Vince McMahon would be as gracious unless Lesnar’s deal allows him to do both. At the same time, some would question Lesnar’s commitment to fighting if he was doing both at the same time. Dave Meltzer strongly speculated on his podcast that Lesnar vs. Mir would support Velasquez vs. Dos Santos on a stadium show.
Could this all be a big ruse to sell his “quitting” angle in the WWE? It isn’t out of the realm of possibility, especially with Paul Heyman involved. I just can’t see Dana White getting all caught up in a WWE angle. I also couldn’t see Lesnar working White to help sell the angle. As I speculated in my UFC 146 blog, I do think that Lesnar will come back and I don’t think he is interested in burning that bridge.