Brock Lesnar's future will be decided in the next few weeks.
WWE, Inc./Heather McLaughlin
The rumors about former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar possibly returning to the UFC continue to swirl, especially in the face of his contract with World Wrestling Entertainment expected to run out in the next month.
Lesnar appeared at UFC 184 just a couple of weeks ago where he sat cage side just behind UFC president Dana White, and this happened around the same time the hulking heavyweight apparently walked out of a meeting with WWE officials in the midst of contract negotiations.
White has maintained the same stance every time Lesnar’s name comes up: His response is that he’ll gladly talk to the former champion once Lesnar’s deal with WWE comes to a close.
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But is Lesnar actually leaning toward a return to the UFC, or is this just posturing for a new deal with WWE?
On Monday night, Lesnar appeared on "WWE Raw," where his longtime friend and on-screen manager Paul Heyman cut a promo ahead of his wrestling match with Roman Reigns (former Georgia Tech football standout Leati Anoa’i). Heyman once again dropped a hint about the former champion reclaiming the UFC title he lost several years ago.
"Because if Brock Lesnar wants to spend his summer unifying the WWE and the UFC titles, that’s what he’s gonna do!" Heyman shouted.
Now, the mere mention of the UFC product on WWE television made many people wonder whether this really was just a harbinger of things to come once Lesnar’s deal with the professional wrestling league is over, but in reality this one statement seems to lean things in the complete opposite direction.
WWE is scripted entertainment and the production for the show is top notch across the board, but the people handed microphones and afforded several minutes of on-air time are rarely granted complete autonomy when it comes to what they’re going to say before actually saying it. There’s not necessarily a script, but wrestlers or managers or even commentators don’t make statements — especially bold statements — without WWE’s approval.
It’s hard to imagine Heyman, who is masterful in his work on the microphone, would be handed the keys to the kingdom without upper management at the WWE already aware of the framework of what he’s about to say.
Acknowledging the rumors about Lesnar potentially jumping ship to UFC while discussing it on air on a WWE show only furthers the opinion that the 37-year-old former NCAA champion wrestler already has made a decision about his long-term future, and it’s likely not in the Octagon.
Lesnar has been buried deep in contract negotiations with WWE for months, and his appearance at a UFC event just weeks before his deal is up might be a lot of things, but it’s not likely a coincidence. Nor is the fact that Heyman dropped the UFC name while talking about Lesnar’s upcoming match at WWE Wrestlemania.
Lesnar has gone through a couple of contract negotiations with the WWE since returning to the organization after his last fight in the UFC back in 2012. Every time Lesnar’s contract is seemingly coming to an end, the rumors about his return to the UFC start all over again until he signs another deal.
The fact is, Lesnar will turn 38 in July and hasn’t fought since December 2011. His body is healthy and in shape, which is something he couldn’t count on during his final days with the UFC after a battle with diverticulitis robbed him of two years of his fighting career. The problem is, with more than three years off already, the chance Lesnar returns to the form he had at his peak is minimal.
The only thing that might play a part in Lesnar returning to the UFC is the fact that this is probably the last chance he’ll get at having another fight before it’s too late. Even with that possibility, it’s still hard to imagine Lesnar giving up guaranteed money in the WWE, where he is a massive draw and a huge star with no chance that he’ll go anywhere but the top while performing as a professional wrestler.
Clearly the same can’t be said if he returns to the UFC because one more bad loss could send Lesnar packing again — and then he’s really stuck.
If Lesnar’s deal with the WWE does come to an end, the UFC assuredly will make a push to bring him back into the fold because he was MMA’s biggest star when he was racking up huge pay-per-view numbers between 2008 and 2011.
But this latest promotion ahead of his matchup at WrestleMania seems to suggest that Lesnar might be closer to a new contract with WWE and they are just using the UFC name to help promote an upcoming angle in the story line — and that’s as "professional wrestling" as you can get.