Well well well. What do you know? Brock Lesnar will be returning to MMA action at UFC 200 on July 9. Lesnar’s opponent was just announced today: Mark Hunt.
With a name as big as Lesnar’s there was no question there would be some drama surrounding this surprise announcement. The drama primarily involves the way the announcement came out and Brock’s status with WWE.
This announcement came from out of nowhere. Brock was last seen on WWE television in April at Wrestlemania. He didn’t even appear on #RawAfterMania. I think we were all just quietly waiting for him to come back at SummerSlam. Think again.
The controversial announcement about The Beast’s return was first reported by the always trustworthy SB Nation MMA Fighting reporter, Ariel Helwani, on Saturday night.
Helwani was fired by Fox Sports in March for discussing the idea of free agency in MMA with Welterweight contender Rory MacDonald, among other various thorns at the side interpreted by the UFC.
The UFC wasn’t happy with Helwani, to say the least, when he revealed the Lesnar story before they did. UFC wanted the announcement to come from them first. I personally don’t think it makes a difference who broke the story first.
Helwani’s a reporter and it’s his job to break valid news once he’s able to confirm it. Multiple sources confirmed the Lesnar return with him. If Dana White and the UFC want to pick a war (which I’m not endorsing) they ought to pick it with their internal sources who leaked the story or they should do a better job of keeping secrets.
At the end of the day the news was going to get out one way or another; either from the UFC or the media. The excitement was not hindered at all by the preliminary report either. It still holds the same impact.
Nonetheless, UFC felt the need to
idiotically ban Helwani from gaining UFC press access for life. Dana White said he can still attend UFC events, but he’ll have to buy his own ticket… [As of 6/9/2016 this lifetime suspension was since rescinded.]
As for the other drama, many are questioning how WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon, could allow one of his most prized superstars to compete in the very sport that nearly ended his career. Many are asking how WWE will benefit from this. Let’s look at all sides:
Brock Lesnar and WWE
Brock and WWE are basically in the same boat. If Brock wins or at least puts in a strong showing it will be best for business. He’ll make some serious money, his stature and reputation will only grow and WWE will likely rake in all sorts of media attention/merchandise sales.
If Brock loses it may or may not be the same story. He’ll still walk away with serious money and WWE will still get plenty of media reception, but in the long-term it could be detrimental. WWE has spent the last 4 years turning Lesnar into one of the biggest juggernauts the company has ever known. With that being said, if Lesnar loses a one-off match, even if it’s in one-sided fashion, I don’t think it would be the worst thing.
Just look at Lesnar’s last 2 fights: a 1st Round TKO loss vs. Cain Velasquez in 2010 and a 1st Round TKO loss vs. Allistair Overeem in 2011.
Lesnar was a monster just for competing in these battles alone and the outcomes did not tarnish his legend.
The obvious worst case scenario is if Lesnar gets hurt badly enough that it puts a dent in his WWE schedule. He only works a limited amount of dates anyway, so that shouldn’t be too huge of a concern.
At the end of the day, I think WWE is making the right decision to allow Lesnar to fight. The contract open-mindedness they’re displaying could change the future of combat sports and super-fights (*cough McGregor-Mayweather cough*) forever.
UFC and Mark Hunt
These 2 are the clear and obvious winners. They will both walk away with record paydays. This could be the biggest paycheck Hunt will ever receive. If “The King of Walk Offs” is able to take out Lesnar he could shoot high up the Heavyweight ladder and could find himself battling for the title in no time.
UFC 200 is already loaded and this fight will only multiply buys, especially with the return and name recognition of Lesnar.
As for the fight itself, it should be a doozy. Brock is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. He’s a formidable grappler and wrestler who has world-class strength and is the definition of a freak athlete. He wants nothing else but a chance at redemption in the Octagon. He wants to get back what was taken from him when he was sidelined with Diverticulitis. He was already preparing for an MMA return last year and I doubt he’ll have Octagon-rust.
On the other side, Hunt has one of the most dangerous weapons in all of MMA: a right hand that has put away some of the best in the business. Hunt also has a world-class chin. The man took the most strikes in a single fight in UFC history (361) when he fought current Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic last May. By the way, he wasn’t even formally knocked out (it was ruled a TKO but Hunt was still fully conscious).
Each man will be staring at his number one weakness here: Lesnar is susceptible to being rocked by heavy strikes and isn’t known for his chin. Hunt prefers to stand up and strike and his weaknesses are exposed while grappling and fighting on the ground.
I say we forgot about all the drama and just let these guys fight.
by: Kevin D’Hooge