Three “Huh?” Moments in MMA Last Week: Brock’s Return, Moreno’s New Home, and USADA Being USADA

UFC heavyweight & WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar MMA
Brock Lesnar, UFC 200 post-fight press conference Credit: Dave Mandel/

The UFC’s heavyweight division won’t be welcoming back a former champion this summer, a flyweight contender has found a new MMA promotion to fight for, and USADA confirmed that they’re a mess. Huh?

Finding the proper response to much of the news finding its way into our social media feeds is becoming a tougher task every day. Nothing is surprising, and there’s always more to the story. Leaving us with one reply: “huh?”.

Last week, Brock Lesnar’s return to heavyweight action, and expected title-fight with Daniel Cormier, was officially put to bed. Instead, Cormier will rematch the man he took the belt from, Stipe Miocic, at UFC 241 in August. Former UFC flyweight Brandon Moreno will be fighting for gold soon as well, when he makes his LFA debut fighting for their 125-pound title in June. Meanwhile, USADA admitted something we already knew: they screwed Tom Lawlor.

The reason “huh?”, in its various forms, is such a quality reply is simple. The word is as versatile as a response gets, and while it may require some explanation, “huh?” is sometimes the only way to react to the news of today. Defined by Merriam-Webster as an interjection that’s “used to express surprise, disbelief, or confusion, or as an inquiry inviting affirmative reply”, “huh” or “huh?” can mean a lot of different things.

Despite some of the follies of human evolution (see: spinoffs), the development and growth of “huh” is something we should embrace. To be the change we want to see in the world, here are a few MMA stories last week that made us go “huh?”.

Bye Brock, Hello Stipe

Following his win over Stipe Miocic in the main event of UFC 226, newly crowned heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier shared the Octagon with former title-holder Brock Lesnar. It seemed to signal the eventual UFC return of Lesnar. As did his entrance into the USADA testing pool. And his dropping of the WWE Universal Championship at Wrestlemania in April. But, as Biggie so eloquently put it, Things Done Changed. Huh?

Not long after the news broke that the promotion was pivoting to Cormier-Miocic 2, the fact that it would headline UFC 241 in Anaheim was made official.

Things did seem to be dragging with Lesnar. But the sudden nature of the news was surprising. Now, instead of a matchup that we don’t really need, the most successful heavyweight champ in UFC history will get the opportunity to reclaim his title.

The waiting game paid off for Miocic. The combination of the lack of depth in the heavyweight title picture, and Miocic’s impressive resumé, are apparently enough to overcome the fact that he didn’t last a round with Cormier in the first bout. Considering the other options currently available at heavyweight, being able to fall back on Cormier-Miocic 2 as the backup plan isn’t a bad place for the promotion to be in.

Brandon Moreno Makes the Move to LFA

With the future of the UFC’s flyweight division up in the air, and a lot of confusion regarding his departure from the promotion, former top-10 ranked 125er Brandon Moreno has a new MMA home. In his first bout for his new promotion, Moreno will be competing for a title. Huh?

Moreno was cut by the UFC following his loss to Alexandre Pantoja in May of last year. Despite a solid run in the promotion at 125-pounds, Moreno seemed to be leaning toward moving up a weight class and fighting at bantamweight, regardless of which promotion it was for.

“What I was told was that the division was full, so I didn’t have my hopes up. but I thought that maybe I was in like a waiting list, but that was never the case. I wasn’t in any waiting list, I was cut. The moment that I found out, I started looking around.” – Brandon Moreno via MMA Fighting

But, as we’ve said, things can change rather quickly. While he may have been set on moving to bantamweight, an offer for a flyweight title fight in LFA has adjusted Moreno’s priorities. He’ll be fighting in the main event slot in his promotional debut on June 7 at LFA 69, challenging Maikel Perez for his flyweight championship. He’s signed a multi-fight contract, and looks like he’ll be an LFA property for a while.

It’ll be interesting to see the routes other UFC flyweight take should the division continue to be phased out. From changing divisions to changing promotions, many 125-pound fighters will have some difficult decisions to make.

USADA Screwed Tom Lawlor

USADA isn’t perfect. They’ll readily admit that. The problem is, their mistakes have massive impacts on the lives of the UFC athletes they work with. A great example of this fact is the case of Tom Lawlor.

You probably remember it. Lawlor tested positive for ostarine in October of 2016. He was then suspended by USADA for two years. Two months before his suspension was up, he was cut by the UFC. Were that suspension initially for six months, like the handful of punishments recently handed out by USADA, maybe things would’ve gone a little differently for Lawlor’s MMA career.

According to USADA, it’s just a case of bad timing. Because, were his case to be taken up today, rather than a couple of years ago, his suspension would likely be more along the lines of six months, not two years. Huh?

“While the facts in Lawlor are similar but not necessarily identical to the ostarine cases announced this week, he received the standard sanction at the time for his violation announced in 2017,” USADA communications director Adam Woullard said. “If his case arose today, he might have been eligible for a lower sanction and would have the ability to challenge to an independent arbitrator to determine the final consequence.” – via Bloody Elbow

Well, that sucks. Of course, it’s part of the evolution of USADA’s involvement with the UFC. And it’s good that things seem to be getting better and not worse. It’s just a bummer that the likes of Tom Lawlor, and more, have to be sacrificed along the way. Especially when it may not even lead to the alleged Promised Land of a completely “clean” promotion. Whatever that would mean.

Thankfully, when it comes to Lawlor, he’s found another calling: professional wrestling. He’s currently wrestling for Major League Wrestling. Lawlor even made his return to MMA last November at Golden Boy Promotion’s debut MMA event.

We won’t be seeing Brock Lesnar competing in the UFC anytime soon. The same could be said for Brandon Moreno. Tom Lawlor is in the same boat as well, no thanks to USADA. Regardless of their UFC status, each guy seems to be doing just fine outside of MMA’s premier promotion. Huh.

Huh? for the road