WWE Between Brock and a Hard Place For Lesnar’s UFC Return

The news that Brock Lesnar will return to UFC to fight Mark Hunt in July was as enticing and welcomed as it was unexpected. Lesnar’s UFC return has got the world talking, and rightly so.

The ‘Mayor of Suplex City’ – whose last UFC bout was in 2011 before his official retirement from the company in March 2015 – returns to the octagon in Las Vegas on July 9 for UFC 200. He will be taking on the ‘Super Samoan’ in a bout that may bring about huge implications for the career of Lesnar and his status with both WWE and UFC.

Photo: ufc.com
Photo: ufc.com

WWE Between Brock and a Hard Place For Lesnar’s UFC Return

The announcement represents the latest move in the tug of war that has taken place between the two promotions. A battle that has been raging since Lesnar made his first switch from a four-sided ring to an eight-sided one in 2008. In a hastily released statement, WWE made clear that the agreement was a one-off and Lesnar would return for Summerslam in August. Even with the details on the table, the most casual observer would be well within their rights to ask just what WWE stand to get out of the deal.

Vince McMahon and WWE are liable for the most risk should Lesnar fail to defeat Hunt. The event itselft promises to be one of UFC’s most pivotal, anticipated and lucrative fights in its history. A loss to Hunt will damage the company that brought him into the mainstream. Lesnar is made to look almost invincible on WWE television and it may be difficult to maintain the suspension of disbelief if he is toppled in Vegas.

Of course, Lesnar’s UFC return and a subsequent victory will put WWE in a compromising position. Lesnar has never hidden the fact that money is his prime motivator when it comes to signing contracts. An elite, decorated athlete will also crave competition; something WWE has been unable to provide for him of late.

Photo: WWE.com
Photo: WWE.com

Latest PPV Appearances

Lesnar’s last two WWE PPV appearances are an indication that their active roster isn’t strong enough to handle him. He had an unscheduled semi-squash match against Luke Harper at March’s Roadblock. This was followed by a sub-par victory over Dean Ambrose in a No Holds Barred Street Fight – which barely left the ring – at Wrestlemania. Having already seen off the likes of John Cena, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and most memorably the Undertaker, there is nobody else to feed to Lesnar. The only viable prospect might be the return of Kurt Angle, but there may be icicles forming on the end of Satan’s nose before we hear the crowd chant “YOU SUCK!” in that way ever again.

Lesnar’s return has already sent veritable shockwaves through the world of UFC and MMA, and the clamour to face Brock before the announcement of Hunt was telling. Brock still draws, his scalp is prized and the best in the world are lining up to take him on. Making short work of Hunt on July 9 may open the door to some UFC dream matches. Dream matches equal big pay days and that’s the worm you need on the hook to catch Lesnar.

The Lure of Competition

In a June 6th appearance on Paul Heyman’sHeyman’s Hustle, Brock is asked by his long-time friend and business associate exactly “why” he had chosen to return.

“Why?” replies the surprisingly media-shy Lesnar, affecting a slight grin. “Because I want to. That’s why.”

With a low media profile and a manager who does the talking for him on-screen, it’s easy to misunderstand Lesnar. Not that he would probably give a damn what we think. It’s easy to read the anecdotes of his money wrangles, his lawsuits and dislike of WWE’s notorious travel schedule and paint him as a selfish troublemaker only out to line his own pockets.

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One can only wonder whether Lesnar played hardball with WWE. Did he kick his heels, highlight the lack of competition, and desire to increase his profile, and bank balance, elsewhere? It’s a rare man that knows his true worth in life. WWE can only hope and pray that one of their strongest, most revered performers and assets does not go exploring pastures new on a more permanent basis.

Yet his discussion with Heyman about his motivation for reaching out and returning to UFC highlighted the lure of competition. His statements show that Lesnar wants to right a wrong, to erase the mistake of “not feeling myself” as a result of his struggle with diverticulitis in his last run. He paints a picture of a successful athlete haunted by the acrid taste of what he perceives to be failure; a faint blot on an otherwise spotless copybook. From this perspective, you can’t blame him for taking the risk.

Photo: WWE.com
Photo: WWE.com

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