Lesnar poised to conquer UFC’s Heavyweight division once more
It’s been almost 2 months since Conor McGregor was officially pulled from the UFC 200 card after the Irishman publicly contemplated retirement, citing the tragic death of fellow fighter, Joao Carvalho, as the motivator behind his decision. MMA fans were left wondering just how the UFC was going to fill the void on the main card of a truly monumental event - and few expected, or were even wise to the possibility of a return for WWE’s Brock Lesnar. It’s a return that has dominated sports headlines since it was reported by Ariel Helwani, and Helwani found himself in the spotlight after being escorted out of UFC 199 and banned indefinitely (a ban which has now been lifted after the UFC and Dana were heavily criticised), for revealing Brock’s involvement at UFC 200.
Pro-wrestling journalist, Dave Meltzer, hinted at the possibility that Brock’s contract with WWE included a stipulation that allowed him to return for one final UFC payday if he got the itch to step back into the Octagon - and it looks like the UFC wasted no time in approaching Lesnar with an incredibly lucrative deal once the McGregor/ Diaz fight was officially postponed.
This match is no cheap gimmick to boost PPV buys, Lesnar is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, and boasts a career record of 5-3-0; of his 3 defeats, Lesnar credits diverticulosis and Alistair Overeem’s steroid use as the reasons for his losses. Despite recently turning 38, Lesnar is hailed as the ‘super athlete’ and just like a great white, once he gets the taste for it, could leave a pile of bodies in his wake if this isn’t just going to be a ‘one and done’ type deal.
Across from him on July 9th, will be the powerhouse New Zealander, Mark Hunt. When rumours of possible opponents for Lesnar began to surface, Hunt’s name was dismissed by commentators, as most expected Lesnar to be protected by pairing him up with a lower tier fighter without the potential to cause Lesnar embarrassment. Whether UFC or WWE, Brock is an incredible asset, and one both sides should be eager to protect for future paydays. A fighter well beyond his prime, or without the power to knock Lesnar out, was likely to be the makeup of the fighter paired with Lesnar.
Hunt does not fit that bill - he’s explosive, a striker and a legitimate threat. If he manages to land any kind of clean blow to Lesnar’s jaw, there will be a lot of nervous faces behind the curtain in Vegas, as well as in the offices of Stamford, Connecticut - where the WWE brass will be keeping an extremely close eye on the fight. Brock’s UFC 200 return will undoubtedly bring in the masses on July 9th, and it’s already one of the biggest sports stories of the year. Will this be the beginning of a new era in the Heavyweight division, or will Hunt put a quick end to the hype and send Lesnar back to the world of sports entertainment?