In late March, just days away from WWE’s biggest annual event, WrestleMania, Brock Lesnar announced that he had signed a new contract with the professional wrestling promotion, thus ending any chance that he would be coming back for another run with the UFC.
Lesnar fought in the UFC for just more than three years from 2008 to 2011. He had one of the most incredible runs in the history of mixed martial arts after debuting as a 1-0 fighter and, three bouts later, winning the heavyweight title.
According to Lesnar’s close friend and on-screen ally Paul Heyman, the former UFC superstar was definitely contemplating a comeback to fighting, going as far as setting up a training camp in early 2015.
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From the sound of things, Lesnar was ready to give MMA another try, but for the first time in his life, the 37-year-old South Dakota native was actually enjoying himself while performing in the WWE — and that made his ultimate decision that much harder.
"Brock opened up a mini training camp in January," Heyman said when speaking to the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin podcast. "Prepared that if he didn’t cut the right deal with WWE that he would then do a full-blown training camp and go straight back into UFC.
"The discussion in his head never got to, ‘Well, who’s my first opponent going to be?’ The discussion in his head was, ‘Whoever they put in front of me, I’m going to be ready.’ I think Brock was very torn by his decision because this run in WWE truly was so enjoyable."
While Lesnar was a mainstay of WWE from 2002 to 2004, he always had his eyes on bigger athletic goals, like his brief tryout to become a professional football player. Lesnar eventually found his home inside the Octagon, but his battle with diverticulitis robbed him of so much time in MMA that he was never really able to give it his all.
Heyman says that desire to see what he could do with his body at 100 percent haunted Lesnar when he was making his final decision on whether to return to UFC or stay with the WWE.
"He’s an athlete. He’s a hunter and a predator. He’s always challenged himself that way, and he does view himself as the baddest dude on the planet," Heyman said about Lesnar. "In his fourth fight he took on Randy Couture, the greatest heavyweight of all time in the UFC; I don’t think anybody would even compare to Couture, and he beat the living crap out of Couture, and they had to stop the fight in the second round, and they had to award the championship to Brock.
"Brock accomplished that with diverticulitis. He had diverticulitis his entire life. He won the NCAA Division I wrestling championship; if they look back at his blood screenings now, they can say, ‘You know what? Your numbers are off, and you probably were suffering from diverticulitis,’ but he’s such a beast he never realized it."
The last few years since leaving the UFC, Lesnar was able to allow his body to mend and get healthy again.
The former UFC champion was ready to pull the trigger on a return if not for the truly great run he was having in WWE. When push came to shove, Lesnar decided he didn’t want to give that up for another run in MMA.
"Here he is for the first time in his life, he’s healthy. He’s healthy, what could he accomplish now even at 37 years old?" Heyman asked. "Weighing that against we’ve had a blast here in WWE. He’s enjoying himself in WWE for really the first time. He never took the time to sit back and say, ‘Man, this is enjoyable.’"
Lesnar signed the new deal with WWE, and that’s where he will close out his career as a professional wrestler while officially putting his three-year run with the UFC in the ground, once and for all.