Over the weekend, the UFC announced that WWE star and former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar would be fighting at UFC 200 next month. The media storm has started and what was already an interesting card now seems slightly more stacked. Lesnar made it clear in the past that he was devastated over his decision to retire from mixed martial arts and many fans have questioned whether things would have been different had he not suffered from that notorious case of diverticulitis that he claims effected his ability to train and fight.
Despite still being under contract, Lesnar has been allowed by WWE to train and fight for the UFC and has been added to the main card for next month's event. While it all looks like a recipe for an entertaining fight, and some extra publicity for both promotions, this decision doesn't really benefit anyone. That's right, WWE, UFC, Brock Lesnar, Mark Hunt and the sport will actually gain nothing from this fight, despite their intentions.
Here are a lucky thirteen reasons why Brock Lesnar's return to the octagon will be a complete failure for all those involved.
14 A Win Does Little, if Anything, for Mark Hunt's Ranking
Mark Hunt is a solid competitor and a legitimate knockout threat every time he steps into the cage. After an interim title fight loss to Fabricio Werdum around the end of 2014, he lost to current champ Stipe Miocic. After two convincing wins against Bigfoot Silva and Frank Mir, he's the number eight contender. At this point, his goal is to continue his rise through the rankings and get another title shot.
If they put him up against, say Travis Browne or Andrei Arlovski, that would make sense; offering both fighters the opportunity to move up and continue churning the top ten contenders. If he beats Lesnar, however, how are the rankings going to change (not that the rankings really mean **** it seems anyway)? Will he leap-frog him over Browne and Arlovski, just because? Then again, if Mark Hunt is satisfied with an opportunity to wail on a Viking for money, who are we to badmouth the opportunity?
13 It's a Transparent Publicity Stunt
At this point most people can agree, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta are damn good at what they do and that is generating hype for their brand. Unfortunately, they are not subtle about it. Fans should be insulted that Zuffa is doing something as blatant as this. This is effectively what the company is saying to the fans by bringing Brock Lesnar back for UFC 200: "Hey, you s***heads, we know you'll watch anything we produce, so rather than bringing some solid young guy in to face Mark Hunt, we're bringing back a polarizing figure who'll bring in a lot of publicity and talk." He's not coming back to pursue a career, he's not going to be an ongoing Heavyweight contender, he's coming back for one more fight because he sells PPV.
12 Secrecy is Already Causing Backlash Against the Brand
The old saying goes, any publicity is good publicity, but the UFC just banned one of the sport's most respected journalists, Ariel Helwani, for life (though they rescinded the ban a day later). In an age where journalists who actually report facts accurately and quickly have the respect of their readers, throwing him under the bus as they have is already having repercussions. Those repercussions are small, but this is another example of Dana White and company running the promotion with an iron fist that sometimes alienates fans and competitors alike. In short, this is similar to the case of cutman Stitch Duran and plenty of dedicated fans are pissed off. MMA enthusiasts are not just fans of fighters, but also get passionate about individuals whose work is essential to the sport.
11 This Decision is Unlikely to Earn the UFC Many New Real Fans
When I say real fans, I should clarify: people who genuinely like the sport of mixed martial arts. Not people who like a lot of flashing lights, meaningless trash talk, and carefully orchestrated matches. Real fans watch in spite of the pageantry, not because of it.
At this point, anyone who is a fan of Brock Lesnar is aware of the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts. They've already watched highlights of his fights in the promotion and have either become fans of MMA or continued with WWE. Seeing Brock Lesnar duke it out with Mark Hunt will do little, if anything, for would-be MMA fans who like wrestling because MMA is still missing most of what wrestling fans like about that form of entertainment.
10 This May (Should) Irritate Existing UFC Fans
This point, and the next one, goes hand in hand with our first point. Dedicated MMA fans generally want to see passionate fighters with love and respect for martial arts competing against each other in an honest, brutal war within the octagon. Instead, for this one fight, on the most important and hyped up card possibly in the history of the sport, they are being force-fed a match between a passionate and talented fighter and a guy who is there to make a scene, brought in to make some money.
In short, one of the main reasons that bringing Brock Lesnar back for a fight will be a failure for the UFC is that it falls into a nasty trend of making decisions in order to fill seats and sell PPVs rather than to put on a good show, and build respect for the sport.
9 It May Anger Other Fighters
Imagine an alternate scenario to your own current life. You're a young Heavyweight fighter, who recently signed to the UFC. You grew up watching Tank Abbott, Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie, Frank Mir, Randy Couture, and so on; all the greats. You thought, as a young person, "wow, what a sport, I want to be like those guys one day" and put in (tens of?) thousands of hours at the gym over a decade and a half. Fast forward to a time when you're signed to the UFC, there's an opportunity to fight a top ten contender on the biggest card in the last while and the boss says "no, we'll give it to this guy who used to fight here, but left, because he makes us more money." Every Heavyweight in the UFC who wants to make a name for themselves has a right to be pissed off about this. It's already started...
7 Does WWE Really Stand to Gain Anything? (No, No They Don't)
Most of my points here have and will continue to discuss why this decision is a bad one for Brock Lesnar and a bad move for the UFC. But for one brief moment, we'll look at why this could be problematic for Vince McMahon and the WWE.
The general consensus is that Vince McMahon is doing this because letting Brock Lesnar fight in the UFC one last time will bring some more fans to his business. Others are saying that Lesnar is being coddled by the WWE and that McMahon is just letting him do what he wants because of his importance to the organization. Whether or not the second point is true is essentially irrelevant. The first point, however, is profoundly wrong. Nobody, whether a die-hard MMA fan or a casual observer, will be pushed to join the ranks of WWE fandom because they see Lesnar fight at UFC 200.
WWE is an incredibly visible brand and product and anyone who watches mixed martial arts knows what pro wrestling is. If they are not currently a fan, the events of a month from now will change nothing. Furthermore, there is a chance of injury in any fight like the one into which Lesnar has gotten himself, that would be a significant loss for WWE.
6 If Brock Wins He'll Want More Fights
In the next couple of points, I'll explain why this fight is unlikely to be a positive experience for Brock Lesnar, whether he wins or loses. Keep in mind for these points, that he has time left on his WWE contract and they are calling this a "one-off opportunity."
I'll repeat the title of this paragraph: if he wins the fight, he'll want more. I'm roughly indifferent to Brock Lesnar as a human being. He's a noted homophobe and pretty repulsive in any interview, but I respect the man's dedication and drive.
With that said, if he beats Mark Hunt, he will automatically want to continue fighting in the UFC. He's said a few times that he misses fighting and has talked with regret about his decision to retire from MMA. A man with the determination of Brock Lesnar is not going to come back for one fight and then just decide that he's done with MMA, he'll want to go for the belt with the intention of holding onto it forever.
5 If Brock Loses...He'll Want More Fights
Obviously much of the same can be said of Lesnar if he gets knocked out, which, when Hunt is in the ring, is always a possibility. Like I said before, for all his flaws, Lesnar is an intense, highly motivated person. If his return to the octagon ends in a loss, he'll be easily as eager to continue to fight, get revenge on Mark Hunt, and go for the belt again. The guy thinks he is the best out there in everything he does and a man like that doesn't show up for one night, lose, and then call it a day.
In short, if his main intention is to fight in the UFC for his own salvation and to close the door on that chapter of his life, one final fight will not accomplish that, whether it ends with him half-conscious on the mat or with his arm in the air.
4 He'll Underestimate Mark Hunt
In my final few points, I will explain why his actual fight against Mark Hunt will result in failure in the form of a loss. The first is overconfidence. Mark Hunt is an easy guy to underestimate and many fighters have done it. He looks like he's out of shape, he's a lot shorter than most guys in the Heavyweight division and he's getting up there in years. Hunt is 42 to Lesnar's 38. The problem for Lesnar is that Hunt's age is just a number and a pretty irrelevant one. People often forget that Mark Hunt's last three professional losses have come in competitive fights against people who have held the Heavyweight belt in the last couple of years.
3 Lesnar is Predicatable
I won't say that predictability in this case can be equated to "easy to train for" but with Brock Lesnar you know what to look for. By now, Mark Hunt and everyone else in the Heavyweight division knows what fighting Brock Lesnar is about. There is little in the way of subtlety and not a lot of fancy stuff. He's a big, aggressive guy who will throw some bombs, try to take it to the ground and use his size to ground and pound his way to a TKO or submission. If Mark Hunt can practice some good movement and stay on his feet, this will likely be his fight.
2 He's Much Older Old Now
When Lesnar steps back into the octagon, it will have been four and a half years since his last UFC fight. In that fight, he demonstrated his amateur ability when paired against an elite striker by taking three straight kicks to the face from Alistair Overeem. Don't get me wrong, he's a got a solid chin to withstand that from the Reem, but three in a row, in less than thirty seconds? Come on.
But back to the point at hand, he'll be three days away from 39 years old with little in the way of directed MMA practice in four years. Granted, Mark Hunt is older, but he practices MMA on a regular basis, which leads into my next point.
1 He's Rusty and Has a Month to Train
This point ties in with my last fairly well. I'll make an admission: time to train is not the best argument to make given that Michael Bisping recently completed a huge upset over Luke Rockhold on just over two weeks of training. What separates Bisping and Lesnar with regard to this point; is that whether or not Bisping had a scheduled fight, he was training, practicing, trying to get better. Lesnar has been in pro wrestling mode for over four years. These are two fundamentally different situations. There is no disrespect intended to wrestlers and their fans, but training to fight in the octagon is not the same as training to perform in WWE.