It turns out that even in this world of numerous professional wrestling websites and Internet spoilers that secrets can, in fact, be kept quiet until they are meant to be made public. Most analysts, World Wrestling Entertainment fans and likely at least some employees over at ESPN were certain about what they were going to hear from Brock Lesnar when the WWE World Heavyweight Champion walked onto a SportsCenter set in the evening hours of March 24th, 2015. Lesnar was going to announce that he was leaving the WWE following WrestleMania 31 to make his expected return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship for one final run. Done and done.
Except that is not what happened. Not even close, in fact. Lesnar dropped his own version of a bombshell that would make former WWE Superstar and current UFC fighter CM Punk proud when “The Beast” told the world that he had put pen to paper on a three-year deal that would keep him in the top promotion in all of North American professional wrestling, a deal that has also ended Lesnar's mixed martial arts career. Lesnar is walking away from the legitimate sport having won the UFC Heavyweight Championship during what was a short tenure in that business, one in which Lesnar put on shows on multiple occasions.
Whether or not Lesnar would have had the goods to go into the Octagon and notch at least one more win before either going home and living his life or making another return to the WWE will never be known. There are, however, few reasons to believe that Lesnar chose incorrectly to hang up his MMA gloves and remain in the company that has, after a false start out of the gates, booked him as well as it has any of its champions over the past decade. Of the possible pairings that were out there at the start of springtime, Lesnar and the WWE is the one that makes the most sense for the man and for the wrestling promotion.
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10 Face Shots
Lesnar is a true mountain of a man who also happens to be a tremendous athlete for an individual of his size. His grappling skills are well documented, and Lesnar's in-cage intelligence is often underrated. He does, however, have one major weakness in his fighting game, and it is that he is not at all keen on being punched in the face, so much so that one moderate strike can throw him off during a battle. Lesnar's scouting report is no secret to anybody in the game, but he will not have to worry about such concerns inside of a WWE ring, unless somebody makes a regrettable mistake.
9 Writing on the Wall
Lesnar has the right to say whatever he wants about how well or how poorly he believes he would perform in a UFC fight. The reality of the situation is that the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion is no longer in the prime of his MMA career, and he would have little to gain outside of money (more on that later) in returning to the UFC for what would, as it pertains to his legacy, be a meaningless fight. Would Lesnar really make another run to the top of the UFC mountaintop before calling time on his fighting days? Probably not, so returning to that organization made little sense.
It is widely believed that the UFC was not the only MMA organization that was pursuing Lesnar, as much as those companies could do so without violating tampering regulations. Lesnar snubbing the UFC for one of those companies – Bellator as just one example – would have done more harm than good outside of fattening what is already a healthy bank account. The best competition in the sport today is found in the UFC, and Lesnar going elsewhere to engage in fights and maybe hold up that federation's championship wouldn't have been all that different from a former NBA star going overseas to win a championship in the twilight of his career.
7 Easier Life
Being an active in-ring performer in the WWE is no easy life, even for somebody who is on Lesnar's schedule (more on that later). That said, there are advantages pro wrestler's get to enjoy that MMA fighters can only dream of as they remain in fighting shape. Lesnar will never, under the WWE umbrella, have to cut weight before a pay-per-view event. He won't have to spend weeks away from his family and his home in a fight camp training and preparing to take on an opponent. As difficult as a pro wrestling existence can be, Lesnar has learned that returning to the UFC would be even harder for him.
6 Lesnar “Gets It”
The perception for years has been that Lesnar is nothing more than a mercenary who would happily except the highest paycheck out there from whatever outlet offered those paydays. He offered a different view of his lifestyle changes during the ESPN SportsCenter appearance when he stated that he was “born to be an entertainer” and that he is actually enjoying his work in the WWE. Lesnar left the company for the National Football League and ultimately for the UFC because he was downright miserable living as a pro wrestler. That is no longer the case, and he is genuinely happy working where he does these days.
Lesnar does well to represent himself as a modern-day caveman who does not need the companionship of any human beings. That is good for his gimmick, but the reality is that he has a true friend in wrestling manager Paul Heyman. Heyman may have his struggles with the current state of the WWE, and of the wrestling business in general, but he also thoroughly enjoys what he does. Lesnar remaining with the company gives him up to two dozen opportunities to work with a man who is in real life a close friend. You can't beat that.
4 Future Match-ups
Lesnar has faced off with the best of the best in the pro wrestling business since 2002; Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Hulk Hogan, Big Show, The Rock, The Undertaker, John Cena and CM Punk to name several. His resume is undoubtedly impressive, but Lesnar still has several intriguing possible match-ups available to him before he permanently leaves the active WWE roster. He has, as an example, never gone through a program with crowd favorite and in-ring marvel Daniel Bryan. Lesnar could also go through a feud with a reunited Shield unit if those three wrestlers were to once again become a faction.
Say whatever you will about the reputations that pro wrestling and the WWE have among those within the public, but over 3-4 million people watch WWE programming on a weekly basis, and they do so every week of the year. It is a banner day for the UFC when one million people tune in to watch an event that does not include fighters such as Ronda Rousey or Jon Jones. By staying with WWE, Lesnar is getting further exposure for himself and for his “brand,” which means more merchandise sales, additional marketing opportunities and also more money.
Critics of this form of entertainment love to point out that pro wrestling is “fake,” but those takes are not entirely accurate due to the dangerous nature of the in-ring action. With that said, a wrestler in the spot that Lesnar currently sits in will be in far less danger inside of the ring than he would be inside of a cage facing off against an opponent who wants to do serious damage to him. Lesnar will only be wrestling against top-tier performers up through the end of his current WWE contract, and thus the likelihood that he will suffer a serious injury is rather low. His family, most notably his wife and his children, will rest easy knowing that Lesnar is not going back to real fighting.
1 The Money
Lesnar said it himself during the SportsCenter segment that he was returning to the WWE and retiring as a MMA fighter: He was, as a pro wrestler, working “part-time for full-time pay.” Who out there would not want such a life? While the specifics of his contract have not and likely will never be released by the WWE, it has been speculated that Lesnar could earn up to $5 million over the next three years, and he may do so by working fewer than 30 dates per 12 months. That is a fine way to make a living.
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