Brock Lesnar, the WWE star who invaded the MMA world, took the UFC by storm, battled diverticulitis, then returned to the pro wrestling world almost as quickly as he had come, is once again rumored to be flirting with a UFC return. Whether you believe the rumor or not, the furor that erupts around Lesnar every time he makes a move shows the hold he has over the sport.
Love him or hate him, you will talk about Brock Lesnar if you’re an MMA fan. It’s an inescapable reality of being involved in a sport where he continues to hold the record for most heavyweight title defenses in the UFC (tied with Stipe Miocic, Cain Velasquez, and a host of others). Lesnar is larger than life, and last year’s failed drug test stemming from his return at UFC 200 has changed none of that, apparently.
The same way failed drug tests for Josh Barnett, Vitor Belfort, and Chael Sonnen failed to do much damage to their own popularity, at least in terms of viewing audience. Which makes you question how dedicated some are to a clean sport, at least from a fan perspective.
Sure, Lesnar’s big win at UFC 200 over Mark Hunt was overturned to a No Contest, but how much that really hurts his legacy remains to be seen. If at all.
Now, with rumors swirling about a meeting between Lesnar, Paul Heyman (his WWE on-screen manager, and real life confidant), and the UFC, we’re treated to another whirlwind round of Lesnar talk. Is he coming back? Will he fight at MSG in New York this fall?
First off, lets point out the obvious: this is an unconfirmed rumor.
The Nov 4 date was obviously speculation. Brock hasn't been tested by USADA in 2017 so far that I know. But his return is eminent. https://t.co/KTCejStiJO
— #Dizz © (@TalkMMA) July 19, 2017
There’s no way to tell if this meeting was legit, or if it was even about a return to fighting. It could have been to plan out a career retrospective DVD, a Fight Pass special, or a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame next year. It could be Lesnar asking for his release to go fight in Bellator, where USADA is nowhere to be found, and Fedor Emelianenko is found these days. That fight, come to think of it, would still sell like hotcakes, and is exactly the type of bout Scott Coker would book to headline another PPV. If you think there isn’t precedent, remember that Chael Sonnen was released from his UFC contract so he could go work for Bellator MMA. Stranger things have happened.
Regardless, what we’re getting at is: this could be anything, though what it will not be is a return to fighting for the UFC in November, because Lesnar’s suspension was frozen when he announced his most recent retirement. Fightful has a great breakdown on that, which you should very much check out.
What we do learn from all this is that years after his original title run, despite a comeback attempt that backfired last year, Lesnar still has the MMA world in the palm of his very large hands. The very mention of a meeting between him and UFC brass gets the MMA media, and fans (both in the MMA and pro wrestling worlds) talking.
That says something about Lesnar’s hold over the sport. It also says something about how hard up the UFC is for star power at the moment.