UFC officials announced that the professional wrestling superstar and former UFC heavyweight champion will face an undisclosed opponent at UFC 200 on July 9. The news comes despite an announcement by Lesnar in March 2015 that he was “closing the door on MMA.”
Lesnar is still under contract with WWE and presumably had to clear his UFC appearance with the WWE before a deal could be brokered.
No possible opponents have been mentioned, but former rival Shane Carwin has been pushing for a rematch of their UFC 116 fight for years.
The UFC officially announced Lesnar’s return during the UFC 199 pay-per-view. His opponent is to be determined.
While talks are progressing well between Lesnar and the UFC, an opponent for Lesnar isn’t close to being finalized. It is unclear at this time who is under consideration.
The 38-year-old Lesnar hasn’t competed in MMA since his Dec. 2011 loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141. Lesnar’s career was cut short due to his struggles with diverticulitis, and after leaving MMA, he returned to World Wrestling Entertainment, where he’s been performing for the last four years.
Since leaving the UFC, both sides have often flirted with the idea of a reunion.
UFC president Dana White said in 2012 that they were close to booking Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko at Cowboys Stadium, but that deal ultimately fell through after Emelianenko’s father passed away, according to White. And the UFC tried to re-sign Lesnar last year as his WWE contract was expiring, but Lesnar chose to return to WWE instead.
In October, Lesnar said on the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s podcast that he was very serious about coming back to the UFC.
“It wasn’t a bluff,” Lesnar told Austin. “I felt robbed by diverticulitis. I felt robbed by being sick. I was feeling good and it took me a couple years to start feeling good. I’m at home, I’m working out, my life is great, everything’s in tune, my contract’s coming to an end with WWE, hey it’s been a great time but something’s missing.
“I was up front and totally honest with the company and told them I’m really thinking of pursuing getting back in the Octagon.”
Lesnar, who turns 39 next month, is a former NCAA Division I wrestling champion. He made a successful transition from professional wrestling to mixed martial arts in 2007. The UFC signed Lesnar despite a 1-0 professional record. He debuted against former champion Frank Mir and lost via submission.
Lesnar went on to win his next four bouts, including a November 2008 UFC title fight against Randy Couture. Lesnar avenged the Mir loss at a landmark UFC 100 event on July 11, 2009, in Las Vegas. After that bout, Lesnar was sidelined for a year due to an intestinal disorder, diverticulitis.
He went on to compete two more times, suffering knockout losses to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem, the latter in December 2011. Lesnar trained for a comeback last year and was in negotiations with the UFC on a new deal , but ultimately decided to re-sign with the WWE
Lesnar, considered one of the greatest draws in MMA history, left the UFC with a 5-3 professional record. He won the UFC heavyweight title in Nov. 2008 when he defeated Randy Couture via second-round TKO. Though, many would argue his crowning achievement was his performance as a headliner at UFC 100 in July 2009. On that night in Las Vegas, Lesnar avenged his loss to Frank Mir in what still stands as the best-selling pay-per-view in MMA history.
If this new deal can get done, there’s a great chance UFC 200, featuring the return of Lesnar, would break that seven-year-old record.
The WWE said Saturday night that Lesnar was “granted a one-off opportunity” to return to the UFC for the July fight and that he’d return for WWE’s SummerSlam on Aug. 21.
Brock Lesnar won the heavyweight belt at UFC 91 against Randy Couture (Nov. 15,2008), defended it twice, then lost it at UFC 121 against Cain Velasquez (Oct. 23, 2010). Lesnar is one of five heavyweights in UFC history to defend the heavyweight belt twice. No one has done it more than twice.
UFC heavyweight champions with two consecutive title defenses
|— ESPN Stats & Information|
WWE issues statement to clarify Brock Lesnar’s UFC 200 participation
Brock Lesnar is back! Well, for a little while, anyway.
After four-and-a-half years away from the sport, the former UFC heavyweight champion and current WWE superstar is slated for a return to the octagon at UFC 200.
UFC officials announced his return while unveiling a slick new promo for the July 9 pay-per-view event, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. An opponent hasn’t been revealed for Lesnar (5-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC).
Despite who’s standing across the cage from him, though, Lesnar’s UFC return is surprising news – and his co-main-event slot on an already-loaded UFC 200 lineup will surely help the milestone card do big business.
According to WWE.com:
“Brock Lesnar remains under contract to WWE, however, he has been granted a one-off opportunity to compete at UFC 200. Following this milestone event on July 9, Brock will return to WWE for SummerSlam on Sunday, August 21, live on WWE Network.”
During a four-year UFC run and two-year title reign, Lesnar was the UFC’s biggest PPV draw. At the time, the 2000 NCAA Division I national wrestling champion also helped the organization garner unparalleled mainstream-media attention. In fact, he helped the UFC’s other milestone show – UFC 100 in 2009 – become a massive PPV success when he knocked out Frank Mir in the headliner.
In his final two fights, though, Lesnar lost his belt to Cain Velasquez, and he then suffered a second straight TKO loss with a subsequent defeat to Alistair Overeem. He then announced his retirement and eventually returned to the WWE, where he’s again one of the pro-wresting promotion’s biggest names.
For one night, though, Lesnar will put the scripted fighting on hold for a return to the real thing.
The latest UFC 200 card includes:
- Champ Daniel Cormier vs. interim champ Jon Jones – light-heavyweight title-unification bout
- Brock Lesnar vs. TBA
- Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar – for interim featherweight title
- Champ Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes – for women’s bantamweight title
- Travis Browne vs. Cain Velasquez
- Kelvin Gastelum vs. Johny Hendricks
- Derek Brunson vs. Gegard Mousasi
- Joe Lauzon vs. Diego Sanchez
- Enrique Marin vs. Sage Northcutt
- Takanori Gomi vs. Jim Miller
- Julianna Pena vs. Cat Zingano
- Raphael Assuncao vs. T.J. Dillashaw
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— UFC (@ufc) June 5, 2016