Brock Lesnar is done with MMA fighting and UFC according to UFC President Dana White. In an article by Brett Okamota of ESPN, White confirmed the news on April 30th. White and the UFC had approached Lesnar about booking a fight in the summer against Daniel Cormier. However, when discussing this subject, White told ESPN “He told me he’s done. He’s retired,” This ends months of wrestling fan speculation that Lesnar would again leave WWE and wrestling in favor of UFC. Brock’s MMA career has run hot and cold, much as his wrestling career has.
Brock Lesnar Retires from Mixed Martial Arts
In April 2006, while still reigning as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Brock stated his intention to join the Hero’s MMA league. Following his first hiatus from professional wrestling, Lesnar officially signed with K1 and Hero’s in August of 2006. He would go on to train at the Minnesota Mixed Martial Arts Academy under their trainer Greg Nelson, as well as Marty Morgan. Morgan was the University of Minnesota’s assistant head wrestling coach; Lesnar is an alumnus of Minnesota. His first official fight took place on June 2, 2007, against Min Soo Kim. Like many of his pro wrestling matches, it was a short affair. The official time was one minute and nine seconds when Kim tapped out to Lesnar’s strikes.
On June 29, 2007, Lesnar would briefly return to pro wrestling. He still technically held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and retained the title in his possession. New Japan Pro Wrestling had stripped Lesnar of the title back in 2006 and moved on, but Antonio Inoki still recognized Lesnar as the rightful champion. Lesnar had not been beaten for the title in the ring. So for that one night in June, Lesnar returned to compete for the Inoki Genome Foundation (IGF) at their debut event. He defended the title against the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Kurt Angle. Angle would force Lensar to tap out and win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This would be Brock’s last wrestling match for several years.
Lesnar would join the UFC in late 2007, it was announced on October 20th during UFC 77. His debut fight for the UFC would take place on February 2, 2008, at UFC 81: Breaking Point. Lesnar’s opponent would be Frank Mir, the man who would hand Lesnar his first MMA and UFC loss. It would be over in a minute and thirty seconds by submission. Lesnar’s next fight would be at UFC 87 against Heath Herring, which would see Lensar win by unanimous decision. This would also be Brock’s first fight to go past the first round, lasting three rounds and clocking in at the full fifteen minutes. Much like his quick ascension in the WWE to champion, so was his ascension to champion in UFC.
In his fourth ever fight, at UFC 91, Lesnar would challenge MMA legend, Randy Couture. On November 15, 2008, after two rounds and lasting eight minutes and seven seconds, Lesnar would defeat Couture. In that same time, he would win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. After UFC 92, Frank Mir confronted Lesnar in the crowd, ahead of their now scheduled fight at UFC 98. Mir had just won the Interim Heavyweight Championship and they would fight to unify the titles. Due to an injury to Mir, the fight with Brock Lesnar was pushed off until UFC 100. UFC 100 would go down on July 11, 2009, and Lesnar would even the fight statistics with Mir. Lesnar defeated the one man to beat him in MMA thus far in two rounds, lasting only six minutes and 48 seconds. Little did they know; this would be Brock’s last fight for almost a year.
Lesnar’s next fight and title defense were scheduled to take place against Shane Carwin at UFC 106. That event was set for November 21, 2009. In October, it was announced that Lesnar was ill and had to pull out of the fight. The Carwin fight was initially rescheduled for January 2, 2010, at UFC 108. However, in November the illness plaguing Lesnar would be revealed as mono. It also came out later that in addition to mono, Brock had a severe case of diverticulitis and required surgery. On November 16, Brock underwent successful surgery to repair damage caused by the diverticulitis. In January, Brock went on ESPN’s SportsCenter and announced that he would make his return in the summer.
In the meantime, an interim Heavyweight Champion was crowned in Shane Carwin. He defeated Frank Mir at UFC 111 in March 2010. The two champions would square off at UFC 116 on July 3rd. Carwin gave Brock Lesnar a hell of a fight, cutting him above the left eye. Lesnar would rally back and win via submission in the second round. Carwin received his first ever loss, and Brock’s record improved to 5 and 1. Lesnar’s next fight would be at UFC 121 on October 23rd. His opponent would be the undefeated Cain Velasquez. Lesnar would lose the fight and the championship to Velasquez in the first round by technical knockout.
In January of 2011, Lesnar was revealed as a coach for the television series The Ultimate Fighter for season 13. His team competed against one coached by Junior Dos Santos. A fight between the two had been planned for June 11 at UFC 131. Sadly, for Lesnar, he was forced to withdraw from the fight on May 2nd, as he was stricken by another bout of diverticulitis. On May 27th he again underwent surgery to alleviate the problems caused by the disease. In the summer of 2011, post-surgery, Lesnar began to train for his MMA return. Lesnar returned to the octagon at UFC 141 on December 30 against Alistair Overeem. Overeem won the fight in the first round by technical knockout. This would drag Lesnar’s MMA record down to 5 and 3.
Following this loss, Lesnar said that his MMA career was over. “This is the last time you’ll see me in the octagon,” Blindsiding everyone, Lesnar elaborated “I’ve had a really difficult couple of years with my disease, and I’m going to officially say tonight is the last time,” The notoriously private Lesnar shed a little light on his personal life as well. “I promised my wife and my kids if I won this fight, I would get a title shot, and that would be my last fight, but if I lost tonight … you’ve been great.” In early 2012, the Beast Incarnate would return home to his wrestling roots and WWE. He would go on to feud with many stars such as John Cena, Triple H, Roman Reigns and the Undertaker.
Three years later as this contract with WWE came up for expiration, speculation swirled that Lesnar might return. He put these rumors to rest during an interview with SportsCenter on March 24, 2015. Lesnar stated that he had re-signed with WWE, as he was older now and making perhaps smarter decisions. WWE afforded him the opportunity to work far less for the same amount of money. Despite ‘closing the door’ on MMA and the UFC, most weren’t terribly surprised when it was announced he would return. On June 4, 2016, UFC confirmed that Brock Lesnar would return and fight at UFC 200 on July 9th. WWE also confirmed that they had agreed to allow Lesnar to make this “one-time” appearance. It was also confirmed he would return to WWE for Summerslam in August.
The fight between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt would be memorable, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. In the fight itself, which lasted three rounds and the full fifteen minutes, was won by Lesnar via unanimous decision. On July 15th, Lesnar was notified by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) of a possible anti-doping policy violation. It was later shared that Lesnar tested positive for a banned substance in an out-of-competition sample. A second sample, taken in-competition, also tested positive for the same banned substance. The original official result of the Hunt fight was overturned and is now reflected as a no-contest. Brock was fined $250,000 and suspended for one year by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
In February of 2017, Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting confirmed that Lesnar had notified UFC of his retirement from MMA. In July of 2018, hope again returned of Lesnar fighting in the UFC once again. After Daniel Cormier won the UFC Heavyweight Championship at UFC 226, Lesnar stormed the octagon. The two had words and Lesnar challenged Cormier right then and there. On July 8, the USADA shared that Lesnar had begun the process to get back into their drug-testing pool. Since then, speculation had swirled that a fight between Lesnar and Cormier would materialize.
Now Dana White has hopefully laid these rumors to rest for good if the third time is the charm for Brock Lesnar’s retirement from MMA. During his time in the UFC, he helped raise and expand the profile of the company and the sport of MMA. He also paved the way for the legendary purses that stars such as Daniel Cormier enjoy now. And just like in wrestling, never again doesn’t always mean never again.
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