Daniel Cormier will face Stipe Miocic at UFC 241 on August 17 in Anaheim as Dana White announces that Brock Lesnar is retired.
Former UFC Heavyweight champion and WWE superstar Brock Lesnar has retired from the sport of mixed martial arts amidst heavy speculation that he would be returning to fight for the title later this year. Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier will instead defend his title against Stipe Miocic at UFC 241 in Anaheim on August 17.
First reported by ESPN, UFC President Dana White says that “Lesnar is retired,” and that the promotion was moving their focus to a rematch with Miocic for Cormier. Lesnar had been fueling rumors of a UFC return since stepping into the cage last year to engage with Cormier following his title victory over Miocic. He also reportedly looked thinner in WWE appearances as he had re-entered the USADA testing program in anticipation of a UFC return. Furthermore, he lost his WWE title earlier this month to Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania which helped eased his time commitments to pro-wrestling. To add even more fuel to the fire, WWE manager Paul Heyman teased after the match that Lesnar had to catch an early flight to Las Vegas where he would be “ultimately” appreciated.
But while he appeared to be going through the motions of a return, the business of the WWE substantially changed following his staged confrontation with Cormier last July. For one, the WWE signed a deal to bring events to Saudi Arabia that was reportedly over $450 million. At the same time, the owner of the highly visible world heavyweight championship, Roman Reigns, announced a hiatus from pro-wrestling to battle leukemia. The result led to the WWE signing a new deal with Lesnar in light of the circumstances to remain an active figure in the company.
Financially, Lesnar never needed the MMA paycheck, although it was expected to be a substantial one for his comeback against Cormier. Following the new deal in Saudi Arabia, he needed it even less. In MMA, he was coming off a three year lay-off that included a suspension by USADA after testing positive for banned substances at UFC 200 in 2016. At 41 years of age, the bout with Cormier was already considered an unexpected turn of events for Lesnar and looked to be his final foray into mixed martial arts for a sizable paycheck.
Cormier and Lesnar had been expected to headline UFC 239 in July. However, the promotion booked Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos despite the circumstances seemingly lining up for Lesnar’s return. White also indicated a possible move away from the former WWE star earlier this month when he commented that the promotion was not working on a fight for Lesnar and that a Miocic rematch for Cormier was becoming more likely.
Cormier and Miocic met at UFC 226 last July where “DC” ended the historic two-year title reign of the Cleveland native. Immediately following the bout, Cormier turned his sights to Lesnar and repeatedly stated that it was the fight he wanted. Following Cormier stepping in on short-notice to headline UFC 230, Dana White reiterated that the fight with Lesnar was a bout he wanted to make for the heavyweight champion.
Miocic spent the remainder of 2018 campaigning for another fight with Cormier, stating that his historic run warranted an immediate rematch for the belt. Ironically, after shutting down other options, Miocic recently began to state that he was open to other opponents and even drew interest for a fight with Jon Jones before the latter was signed to another fight.
UFC 241 will take place on August 17 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The Octagon last visited the Honda Center in 2017 when Jones fought Cormier for the light-heavyweight title and had his victory overturned. This will be Miocic’s first time competing in California