Until recently, many people assumed that the UFC & WWE had entered into a private business agreement that lets athlete drift seamlessly between both companies but it turns out that Brock Lesnar is the sole fighter that’ll be crossing the boundaries.
Lesnar will face the UFC’s #9 ranked heavyweight Mark Hunt in the co-main event of UFC 200 on July 9th.
In a recent interview, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon gave insight on the WWE’s decision to allow Brock Lesnar to compete at UFC 200 and hinted at it being a one-time opportunity.
“In Brock Lesnar’s case it was really a special case that we are allowing him to do this fight,” Stephanie McMahon said. “But like you said it’s not really a cross-promotional opportunity, but we are allowing him to participate in that fight.
“We are not supporting the fight necessarily but, again, it’s not a competitor to us and the more that our superstars, that’s how we refer to our talent, the more they do outside of WWE, the more awareness it generates and the broader the audience can be that is then brought back into our properties. So we recognize the value of that.”
During the UFC 200 conference call Brock was asked to comment on Stephanie & the WWE not supporting his choice to compete in the UFC, which led to a very colorful response from Lesnar.
“I really don’t give a sh*t.”
After a small chuckle Brock elaborated on his statement.
“This isn’t about my fans,” said Lesnar. “This is about me living my life, being the person that I want to be. Granted, without the fans and everything, none of us would be able to do this. I get that. But I don’t sit up at night wondering is my drawing power gonna be hurt or are my WWE fans gonna tune in and watch me do this. I don’t give two sh*ts about that. This is about me. I want to get in there and be an athlete again. That’s what this is about.”
Brock’s UFC 200 fight is fuelled by redemption but a victory against Mark Hunt may lead to a new goal for Lesnar.
A win over Hunt will most likely rank Lesnar in the top-10 of the UFC’s oldest division. Only one fighter in the top-15 of the heavyweight division is under 30-years-old, Stefan Struve, and Hunt is a 42-year-old that moved into the top-10 due to his recent two fight winning streak. By those standards Lesnar is in prime position to make a run at the title and due to his popularity he will climb the ranks quicker than most.
There are no easy fights in the UFC but a win over Hunt followed by a possible fight with an Arlovski (#7), Rothwell (#6) or Barnett (#10) will position him for an early 2017 title fight.
Will Brock be happy with a singular victory? Will avenging a loss to Alistair Overeem, who may be the UFC champion at that time, or Cain Velasquez be enough to peak his interest again?
Stephanie hinted at the WWE not being thrilled with Brock devoting all of his efforts toward this UFC comeback, so you have to wonder how Brock asking for a follow-up fight will go over in the front offices?
Brock holding the UFC heavyweight championship above his head on Monday Night Raw is an image that’d make Mr. McMahon drool happily down his corporate tie but the process of achieving that image is one that will scare the WWE front office. The more Brock fights in the UFC the higher risk of him suffering an injury. Brock getting KO’d by Mark Hunt would garner a mandatory medical suspension from the UFC, it’s unknown if that suspension would be honored by the WWE and effect his participation at SummerSlam.
This is a risk the WWE is willing to take for now but who is to say that they’ll be willing to repeatedly roll the dice?
If Brock dominates Hunt, who is far from invincible given his 12-10-1 record, then all signs point at him moving on to bigger and better fights. It’s hard to imagine Mr. McMahon drawing a line in the sand and telling Brock he can’t push toward a title fight.
The WWE contract signed by Lesnar last year guarantees that the two sides have to work together in the near future but it does not mean that they have to do so happily. A win for Lesnar all but ensures someone will bite the bullet and cave on their stance.
Brock doesn’t look like the compromising type.