The worlds of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts were shaken over the first weekend of June 2016 when it was learned that WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar was making a one-off return to the UFC to fight at the UFC 200 show. Lesnar is, as of the posting of this piece, scheduled to fight Mark Hunt. Hunt may not be perceived to be a contender for the UFC World Heavyweight Championship heading into the summer of 2016, but the veteran of the cage has proven himself to have knockout power. UFC 200 will present a true test to Lesnar, who has not been a MMA competitor in years.
Once the initial shock of Lesnar returning to the UFC evaporated, fans and analysts were left asking a plethora of obvious questions. Why, at this stage of his life, would Lesnar risk suffering an injury or a knockout against a fighter such as Hunt when he is already being paid millions of dollars per the terms of his current WWE contract? Is it possible that Lesnar truly regrets announcing his retirement from fighting and re-signing with the WWE in the spring of 2015? What are the odds that UFC 200 is not a one-time thing and that Lesnar will remain in the UFC past the summer of 2016?
The truth of the matter is that there are good reasons for Lesnar to return to the WWE after UFC 200, and also for Lesnar to consider remaining in the UFC after he fights Hunt. Those of us who do not personally know Lesnar can only speculate about what he may be thinking regarding the Hunt fight and also as it pertains to his future in fighting and in sports entertainment, in general. The question, thus, must be asked to you readers, you fight fans and you wrestling viewers out there: Should Lesnar stay with the WWE after UFC 200, or should Lesnar try to give it one more real go in the UFC?
Stay in WWE: If Lesnar Loses to Mark Hunt
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Lesnar returning to the UFC for UFC 200 is not just about money for “The Beast,” and that Lesnar really does need to scratch a figurative itch and have at least one more fight. A great way to eliminate that itch once and for all would be for Lesnar to get knocked out by Hunt in front of an audience of maybe two million fight fans. Make no mistake that Lesnar suffering a harsh defeat at the hands of Hunt is a real possibility. That last loss could, theoretically, lead to Lesnar realizing that he is more of a WWE performer than a UFC fighter these days.
Stay in UFC: If Lesnar Beats Mark Hunt
As of early June, Brock Lesnar is the underdog in his upcoming fight against Mark Hunt at UFC 200. Do not, however, automatically assume that Lesnar cannot hang with Hunt just because Lesnar has been working for the WWE over the past several years. While Hunt’s takedown defense has improved during his career, he is still no match for Lesnar in that aspect of a fight. So long as Lesnar avoids being hit with a shot that sends him on his back, Lesnar could take the bout to the ground. Doing so and defeating Hunt could be all Lesnar needs to remind him that he can still go in the UFC.
Stay in WWE: High Pay For Little Work
While the figure has not publicly been confirmed by the UFC, WWE or Lesnar’s camp, it is safe to assume that Lesnar is not receiving peanuts to take the UFC 200 fight with Mark Hunt. Still, it is not as if Lesnar is hurting for money these days. Forbes reported in March of 2016 that Lesnar’s WWE deal earned him $6 million last year. The only performer on the WWE roster who made more than Lesnar over that time was John Cena. While Cena has dealt with injury woes over the past year, he has remained the face of the WWE and an individual who makes plenty of public performances. Lesnar, as will be pointed out later, does not have such a schedule.
Stay in UFC: Records
Pay-per-view buys and social media hits are, for lack of a better description, moving targets. The perception had by journalists such as Dave Meltzer is that UFC 100, a show headlined by Lesnar, currently has the record for the most PPV buys in the history of the promotion. Conor McGregor may dispute that, but McGregor’s opinion on the matter likely won’t matter after UFC 200. Lesnar will not headline UFC 200, though, and thus he may feel as if he wants to once again be on top of the PPV buys category. The only way he will achieve that goal will be to stay with the UFC past the summer of 2016.
Stay in WWE: Age
Lesnar has, since he first emerged in a WWE ring over a decade ago, proven time and time again that he is a freak athlete. The former WWE and UFC Champion is also no longer in his physical prime. Lesnar will turn 39-years-old this summer, meaning that he should be closer to the end of his fighting career than to challenging for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Yes, Lesnar is a few years younger than Hunt, but it is a wide gap that separates having a one-off fight from re-joining the active UFC roster as somebody who has multiple bouts in one year.
Stay in UFC: Bad WWE Programs
Vince McMahon is still the man in charge of the WWE and, more importantly for this portion of the piece, in charge of WWE storylines. WWE fans out there fearing the worst can already envision the company having Lesnar feud with Braun Strowman. Maybe, after that disaster of a match, the WWE could have Lesnar go one-on-one with Baron Corbin. Lesnar should not have to worry about carrying anybody in a program at this point of his wrestling career. Remaining in the UFC is an easy way to ensure that Lesnar will not have any lackluster programs in the future.
Stay in WWE: Legacy
Some professional athletes care a lot, maybe even too much, about their legacies. That has not been the case with Lesnar, at least it wasn’t as of the spring of 2015. While appearing on the ESPN program SportsCenter at that time, Lesnar explained that he was “not much for legacy.” Lesnar also noted how much money he had made while working for the WWE and fighting in UFC. By all accounts, Lesnar has not squandered the millions of dollars that he has earned during his legendary career. Assuming that Lesnar still feels the same about legacy, staying with the WWE is the logical decision.
Stay in UFC: Injury Risk Is Present In Both UFC and WWE
Yes, actual fighting is undeniably dangerous. The outcomes of pro wrestling matches may be scripted, but that does not at all mean that one cannot pick up an injury even while performing alongside the safest of workers. Seth Rollins suffered a serious knee injury last fall while attempting to pull off a move he had probably executed thousands of times before that fateful evening. Lesnar could be downed by a career-ending injury inside of the cage or the ring. Lesnar may, thus, feel as if it is better off to take such a risk while being involved in a sport.
Stay in WWE: Fight Camps Suck
The title of this portion of the piece says it all. Fight camps are no fun. They involve scouting a future opponent, preparing one’s stamina and also working on different aspects of fighting per the upcoming opponent. This does not include the changes in diet that one has to make before, during and after a camp. Remember that Lesnar explained in 2015 that he attempted a MMA training camp before choosing to re-sign with the WWE. We don’t know exactly what happened during that camp, but that camp helped Lesnar make the decision to return to the WWE and “retire” from fighting.
Stay in UFC: Nothing Left to Prove in WWE
As was pointed out earlier in this piece, there remain plenty of interesting fresh matches Lesnar could have were he to remain in the WWE. What else, though, does Lesnar have to prove as a pro wrestler? Lesnar produced memorable matches with the likes of John Cena, CM Punk and The Undertaker. Lesnar has already headlined a WrestleMania event held at a football stadium and he has held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Lesnar could walk away today and be revered as one of the greatest performers in WWE history.
Stay in WWE: Serious Injury Risk Is Higher
Fighting and professional wrestling are both dangerous. Bad things happen inside of a cage and also inside of a ring. However, a fighter such as Mark Hunt, somebody who has tremendous punching power and also somebody who may feel that he has something to prove to the guy making a return to the UFC from pro wrestling, could do real damage to even a “Beast” such as Brock Lesnar. How much punishment to the head and to other parts of his body that Lesnar want to take at this point of his life? Is the money worth the risk of suffering a serious injury?
Stay in UFC: Money
When Lesnar closed the door on fighting in the spring of 2015, he explained that he rejected an offer worth “10 times” what he had previously made during his UFC career. Would UFC be willing to match that contract or offer something similar? Would that be enough for Lesnar to choose to “retire” as a pro wrestler and finish his career in the UFC? One thing that we have seen with Lesnar over the years is that he is a smart businessman who does what is best for his wallet and his back accounts. Besides, the time for Lesnar to enter negotiations with multiple companies is running out.
Stay in WWE: Dream Matches
Whether or not Lesnar has “cooled off” as a WWE performer over the past year is a matter of opinion. One would only need to glance at the current WWE roster to come up with multiple dream matches that Lesnar could have before he retires from the ring. Lesnar versus Kevin Owens. Lesnar versus Samoa Joe. Lesnar versus Finn Balor. Any of these could make for great entertainment for fans, they could help put any of those wrestlers over as big stars, and they could also lead to Lesnar making even more money from the WWE.
Stay in UFC: Championship
Does Brock Lesnar, right now today, deserve a fight against UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic? Of course not. The UFC, like other MMA promotions, is not always about putting on fights based on rankings or on what fighters have earned. The UFC is a business, and thus the company produces fights that both diehard fans and also casual viewers want to watch. If Lesnar is able to defeat Mark Hunt, he may, sooner than later, be in line for a championship fight. Admit it. You would tune in to watch that bout, either to see if Lesnar could win or to root for him to lose.
Stay in WWE: Easier Life
Perhaps the most-remembered quote from Lesnar’s interviews during the spring of 2015 came when he explained that his WWE contract allowed to him “work part-time, with full-time pay.” That, as far as those of us who aren’t employed by the WWE know, has not changed. Lesnar still gets to have several months off during the year. He is not on any house show tour, nor is Lesnar required to make a massive amount of public appearances. One could realistically say that Lesnar has the best overall WWE deal among those on the roster. Lesnar could even use his UFC 200 appearance to put pen to paper on a better WWE contract in the future.
Stay in UFC: UFC is Real
Brock Lesnar is a proven real athlete, a man who won championships in amateur wrestling and in the UFC. Lesnar, you’ll remember, attempted to make the roster of National Football League franchise the Minnesota Vikings before he ultimately landed in the UFC. There is clearly something inside of Lesnar that draws him to prove himself in real sports. Lesnar would not have to worry about how he is booked if he were to spurn the WWE for the UFC, as he would likely have the fights of his choosing so long as he continued winning.
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