The MMA world is still buzzing about Brock Lesnar. Lesnar officially pulled out of his UFC 131 fight with Junior Dos Santos citing a return of diverticulitis. No timetable has been set for Lesnar’s return which poses the question as to whether Brock will ever step back into the octagon.
The rise of Lesnar in the world of MMA is nothing short of remarkable. I’ll be writing more about that later this week. The former amateur and professional wrestling star looked unbeatable for the first two years of his UFC career. Unfortunately his last two fights exposed a lot of weaknesses in Lesnar’s UFC game although it appears his health has been the biggest chink in the armor for the former champion.
I am no doctor but I have done the research on diverticulitis and the prognosis for an athlete like Lensar is not good. I was skeptical back in January 2010 when Dana White and Brock Lesnar professed that the former champion had undergone a “miracle cure.” Without surgery, both men proclaimed that Lesnar had rid his body of the disease and was back to 100%.
“This is truly a remarkable story. Who am I to judge, but it just sounds remarkable that the illness could just disappear on its own without any surgery. I’ll take him at his word and the opinions of the doctors on the news. Lesnar said that he lost 30 pounds when he was originally diagnosed with the illness. He said he has since put most of that back on due to heavy gym training. He looked pretty good from what I could see as he sat there for the live interview.”
According to recent news (see the press conference video below), Lesnar was never 100% admitting that he went into his last two fights at 85%. Here is what I wrote at the time about Lesnar and White’s announcement. Maybe Lesnar truly believed at that time that the disease was gone and he was completely cured. I can’t imagine Dana White sitting there confirming the news without medical tests results confirming Lesnar’s healthy prognosis. Regardless of what White and Lesnar knew at the time, he was still sick and he has taken a turn for the worst in the last few months.
Lesnar has to make the biggest choice of his career right now. Lesnar has to decide whether to have surgery or walk around with the illness for the rest of his life. According to everything I have read, many people live productive lives with diverticulitis. Brock Lesnar is not many people. None of those people are 33 years old, 280 jacked pounds, and training several months a year to compete against the greatest mixed martial artists in the world. Living with diverticulitis and walking into an office five days a week is one thing. Living with diverticulitis and competing against the highest level of competition is a completely different story.
Lesnar pulled out of two fights (Shane Carwin and JDS) because he can’t train properly with the illness. He said himself that he is tired of being sick and tired. He will have to train at less than 100% if he were to compete in the UFC with diverticulitis. It can happen and an 85% Brock Lesnar is still capable of beating a lot of UFC heavyweight fighters. However, there is a glass ceiling on how high an 85% Brock Lesnar can go and more importantly, an 85% Brock Lesnar can get himself seriously hurt in active competition.
On top of that, could the UFC continually promote Brock Lesnar if he opted not to have surgery and return to fighting? The disease is just not going to go away on its own. UFC fans are smart and would pick up real quick on the fact that even though Brock Lesnar is advertised to fight, there is a 50/50 shot he won’t show up. Additionally, his drawing power takes a huge hit and after a couple of losses, his high UFC contract will surely be debated in the UFC offices and the end of Lesnar’s reign as the highest paid fighter in MMA will be over.
On the other hand, there is surgery out there that can cure Lesnar’s diverticulitis. Of course like anything else, nothing is 100% but it is certainly worth a shot. I don’t know Brock Lensar but from everything I have read about him, he absolutely hates surgery. The surgery to cure the disease is nothing typical and is considered a major operation. The recovery time is estimated at one year. If Lesnar’s body takes the full year to heal, that would likely take him out of action until the end of 2012 or early 2013.
I am a big Lesnar fan and the guy is a pure athletic machine but the odds don’t favor the big man. Nearing 34, surgery could keep him out until his 36th birthday. A year and a half to two years away from MMA at his age and inexperience could be devastating. It isn’t as if Lesnar is 10 years younger. Keep in mind that Lesnar is still growing as a fighter but at 36 away for two years, it would be difficult to expect him to return and compete at a high level against heavyweights who are younger and faster than the former WWE champion.
If Lesnar was to go under the knife it is always possible that his recovery time is much faster as a professional athlete. Let’s say Lesnar has to sit out a year. A year off is still huge at his age, but coming back 35 years old at 100% makes this a different story. Anything can happen in MMA and who knows who is walking around with the UFC heavyweight belt in a year and a half. If Lesnar can return after surgery and make a short run at the title, the interest in his personal story alone would turn his championship fight into arguably the biggest UFC match of all time. And if he wins, he immediately becomes a legend.
The bottom line here is that nothing is sure and everything is a question mark at this point. I don’t think it will take long to get a better idea of where Lesnar is heading in the future. If he opts for surgery, the sooner the better and if he doesn’t, I think we can all figure out how this story ends.
Whether it is the last of Lesnar or the start of a new chapter in his MMA career, Brock Lesnar is fighting the fight of his life and one that in the end may tap out the heavyweight giant for good.
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