Brock Lesnar is one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in the world, but he's also a very good businessman. He has a real sense of what he's worth, and he plays hardball when it comes to his dealings with folks who are looking to get involved in the Brock Lesnar business and brand.
We've seen it time and time again. When he came out of college and began talking to World Wrestling Entertainment, he negotiated one of the highest-paying deals ever handed out for a developmental wrestler. Rather than make the typical $500-$700 a week typically given to wrestling trainees, Lesnar made somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The same thing happened when Lesnar made the move to the UFC. As a known commodity from his time in the WWE, Lesnar was able to join the UFC roster and instantly become one of the highest-paying fighters in the sport. He backed up that huge contract by delivering record pay-per-view numbers for the company and was rewarded accordingly.
Rather than sign tons of small endorsement deals with fight companies, Lesnar created his own clothing company—DeathClutch clothing, for those not in the know—and pushed them as his primary sponsor. Sure, Lesnar wasn't paid to wear DeathClutch clothing, but he also made a killing on the sale of his walkout t-shirts, shorts and other items.
You can see that Lesnar is smart in his business dealings. He's calculated and never does anything unless it benefits the Brock Lesnar brand. It's been said that he never leaves his house in Minnesota unless it helps him out somehow, and I think that's true.
You can see Lesnar's business acumen all over his latest dealings with WWE and the UFC. Lesnar, who returned to the world of professional wrestling in April after retiring from the UFC in December, famously attended UFC 146 last month and then met with Dana White after the show. As I noted above, Lesnar never leaves his house unless it will somehow benefit him, and so, his appearance right before the Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir main event got people talking, and rightly so.
According to Dana White, the meeting with Lesnar didn't go well. He called it the worst meeting he's ever had with Lesnar.
Did Brock attend the show to play up his firing storyline in the WWE? Did he want to return to the cage and fight again? Nobody really knows. But Bryan Alvarez, in this week's edition of the Figure Four Weekly newsletter, attempted to shed some light on a murky situation (subscription required):
The WWE side almost universally claims that Brock has an iron-clad contract and that there is no way he could fight for UFC until that contract expires following WrestleMania 29 in April of 2013. On the UFC side, there are people who insist that his contract is non-exclusive (more than one source used the term "on loan to WWE"), and that he and White were discussing a potential fight during the meeting.
Not everyone in UFC believes he'll fight. Some believe that even if his WWE contract allowed it, his heart really isn't into fighting and all of this is some sort of ploy by Lesnar to increase his bargaining power or leverage with WWE. There is a great deal of heat on Lesnar from the WWE side, in part due to the belief that the stories coming out of UFC about the meeting going poorly are false.
So what's the deal? Will Lesnar return to fighting, or is this simply a ploy to gain negotiating leverage with the WWE?
I'll tell you what I think: I don't believe Lesnar wants to fight again. I think he WOULD fight again if the UFC offered him a significant raise over what he was getting for his last few fights. His heart may not be into it, but his heart isn't into professional wrestling, either. It's simply a business move, and if Lesnar can make more money fighting than he can in WWE, well, fighting is what he'll do.
But even if Lesnar finishes out his time in WWE and never returns to the Octagon, he's making shrewd moves.
After all, it's been six months since he retired, and I'm still here—along with plenty of other MMA media folks—writing stories about him.