For anyone that has followed the health of former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar for the past few years, his retirement following a loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141 should come as no surprise.
Lesnar’s battles with his health began in late 2009. After man-handling Frank Mir at UFC 100, Lesnar was slated to lock horns with an undefeated Shane Carwin at UFC 106. However, the former national champion wrestler was forced to pull out of the fight due to what was believed to mononucleosis.
After the fight was again forced back at UFC 108, it was revealed that Lesnar’s health problems were more serious and that he would require surgery for the intestinal disorder diverticulitis.
At UFC 116, Lesnar returned to face Carwin and was battered for a full round before triumphantly retaining his belt with a submission in the second round. It appeared that Lesnar was fully back to health.
Later that year, Lesnar met another undefeated challenger in Cain Velasquez. Unlike the Carwin fight, Lesnar was unable to survive the first round and Velasquez was crowned champion.
Lesnar was then tabbed to coach on The Ultimate Fighter against Junior dos Santos in the spring of this year. The pair were expected to fight and determine who would challenge Velasquez for the belt. Once again, Lesnar’s health forced him out of a fight. While Lesnar underwent another surgery, dos Santos faced Carwin for the No. 1 contender slot.
During Lesnar’s absence, it became clear that his future in the sport was in jeopardy. Word out of his camp cast doubt on whether he would fight ever again.
Were you surprised by Brock Lesnar's retirement?
When it was announced that Lesnar was selected to welcome Strikeforce and K-1 kingpin Alistair Overeem to the Octagon at UFC 141, many thought that Lesnar had again overcome his disease and would challenge for UFC gold yet again.
Based on Lesnar’s performance in the cage against Overeem, it was clear that the explosiveness and power that had propelled Lesnar to the top was a thing of the past. There was no bull rush or powerful takedowns. Lesnar was battered on the feet by his opponent.
As Joe Rogan approached Lesnar for an interview following the fight, it was clear that despite his competitive spirit, Lesnar’s body simply wasn’t capable of withstanding the demands of the sport. A dejected former champion revealed that he would not be stepping back inside the cage again, citing a promise to his family, and ultimately admitting that his health had cut his career short after only eight fights.