For those who missed the news earlier, the UFC has officially confirmed that former UFC Heavyweight Champion and current WWE superstar Brock Lesnar will be returning to the octagon at what is now officially the biggest MMA ever of all time.
Despite an incredible card featuring two world title matches and the mother of all number one contender scraps, UFC 100 had one thing that UFC 200 did not … Brock Lesnar.
For those who do not know Brock Lesnar, he is the only man in history to hold the NCAA heavyweight wrestling championship, the UFC heavyweight championship and the WWE heavyweight championship.
This is the man, who in only his fourth MMA bout, destroyed heavyweight legend Randy ‘The Natural Couture’ on his way to becoming the baddest man on the planet by capturing the UFC title.
Only a life-threatening intestinal disease could bring his reign as UFC champion to a halt, but not before he overcame a Shane Carwin barrage, to end Carwin’s undefeated streak.
Despite his relative inexperience, Lesnar’s size, strength, image and attitude, combined with the cross over pro-wrestling audience, made him the single largest draw in MMA up until that point.
Although Conor McGregor is now the sport’s biggest star, Lesnar’s return has given the UFC 200 card a boost that not even the Irish megastar could.
Lesnar, currently the WWE’s biggest attraction, is capable to captivating the mainstream audience, and will surely bring in those last few who were hanging out undecided on whether or not to order the event.
Capitalising on his UFC background, Lesnar has been marketed as a ‘beast’ rather than a normal competitor, and has run through all placed before him. His only loss in recent memory came to perhaps the biggest star in the company’s history in The Undertaker, and even that came after a scripted timekeeping error designed to protect Lesnar.
WWE owner and Chairman Vince McMahon is taking a big risk in lending his biggest star to the UFC, however with an audience of around two million people expected to tune in on July 9th, it’s a chance worth taking.
As for the UFC, I have no doubt that thousands of wrestling fans will tune in to the event to see how ‘their guy’ fares in his return to the octagon.
Although the results and storylines are scripted, wrestling fans need to believe in the wrestlers being presented as genuine bad asses. With Lesnar, there is no need to act or pretend, he is the real deal.
Lesnar’s debut match against Frank Mir at UFC 81 saw an incredible 600,000 pay-per-view buys recorded. UFC 80, which featured a prime BJ Penn only drew 225,000 buys.
The massive jump could be put down to coincidence, but when you look at the UFC 82 show, headlined by MMA legends Dan Henderson and Anderson Silva, which only drew 325,000 buys, all signs point to the Lesnar factor.
An opponent is yet to be named for the event, but truth be told it doesn’t matter.
Lesnar’s name value alone will be worth whatever price the UFC is paying both Lesnar and the WWE, for whom Lesnar recently signed a long term contract extension.
A potential rubber match against Frank Mir has been mentioned, although a fully fit and motivated Lesnar would likely make quick and easy work of the fading Mir.
A rematch with Shane Carwin has also been suggested, however Carwin would also need to come out of retirement to make the bout a reality, and I’m not sure the UFC would be keen to promote two retired fighters returning on such a huge stage.
Win, lose or draw, Lesnar is likely to bank a massive payday for his one-off appearance, while the UFC can count on a substantial jump in buys based on the announcement.
The WWE gets to sit back and somewhat relax while the UFC promotes their biggest star for them. A win for Lesnar would create a new layer for Lesnar’s WWE character. Most of the WWE’s younger audience would not have seen Lesnar compete, and rule, in the Octagon previously.
What looked just a few weeks ago like it could not happen has indeed come to fruition. One of the UFC’s biggest ever stars returns, this making UFC 200 truly the biggest event in the sport’s history.