It's that time of year again! The hints that Brock Lesnar is pondering a return to real fighting have been flying, and fans and media have been thrown into a tizzy at the prospect of the former champ's return.
The question, of course, is: Who would Lesnar return to fight?
There are plenty of options, but some stand out more than others. So who do we want to see Lesnar face off with, should he return? What fights would work for both fans and the UFC?
Find out right here!
When Brock Lesnar fought Alistair Overeem back at UFC 141 in 2011, you could tell Lesnar was still reeling from his second bout of diverticulitis. Not physically—he was still a giant of a man, and still a supreme athlete—mentally, though? He was uncharacteristically tentative; a harsh contrast from the borderline reckless Lesnar that mauled Heath Herring and knocked out Randy Couture.
That reluctance led to a brutal first-round knockout from kicks right to his surgically-altered torso from Overeem. While that certainly seemed like it would be the start of big things for the former Strikeforce champ, things have gone steadily downhill for him since.
While he is booked for an "easy" fight with Frank Mir is one he should win, he hasn't come close to living up to the hype in the UFC thus far. That makes a rematch with Lesnar logical from a rankings perspective and still compelling from an entertainment angle.
If Brock Lesnar comes back, it is all about the money. No doubt about it.
While UFC 168 featured two of the "biggest rematches of all time," Cain Velasquez vs. Brock Lesnar 2 could very well beat both of them. So how would the UFC be able to put that fight together without it seeming like a terrible miscarriage of sport?
In all the heavyweight division, there is only one fighter that basically gives you a "free title shot" ticket when you win. That would be former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos...who happens to be Lesnar's TUF13 coaching rival.
Dos Santos would be a massive favorite if the two faced off, but Lesnar's wrestling and raw physical power are enough for him to take wins over basically anybody in a three-round bout. Having Lesnar vs. dos Santos in the co-main event to Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne or Fabricio Werdum?
That would set things up perfectly.
A fight with Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva works in the same way as a fight with Junior dos Santos in the context of putting him on the path to a title. Silva, though, is a substantially easier opponent for Lesnar.
Silva doesn't have dos Santos' takedown defense, and while he likely has superior Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Lesnar is still incredibly formidable on the ground. In terms of striking, Silva doesn't have the same kind of power or accuracy in his hands that dos Santos does and wouldn't own a serious edge over Lesnar in terms of striking.
Still, Bigfoot is an accomplished mixed martial artist. Even with his losses to Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier and his recent suspension, he is still a clear-cut top 10 heavyweight.
Lesnar vs. Silva doesn't carry the same weight as other fights on this list, but it is still a viable headline for a pay-per-view in the summer months.
Mark Hunt is a seriously popular fighter. He is the "people's champion" of the heavyweight division. So if the UFC wants to take Brock Lesnar and give the fans a fun fight, Mark Hunt is the way to go.
Hunt's striking is well-known, highly regarded and incredibly fun to watch. His ability to explode into punches is second to none in the division and has gotten him huge knockout wins over Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve.
His grappling, however, remains spotty, making this an old-school striker vs. grappler matchup.
It's a fight that looks like it's straight out of Punch-Out!!, and man, would it be entertaining.
The former Pride champion and all-time great is nearing the end of his career, and as Grand Theft Auto V showed us, nothing is more appealing to a wily veteran than one last big score. For criminals, "the big one" is robbing a bank. For fighters, "the big one" is fighting Brock Lesnar.
A fight with Nogueira, in spite of his recent struggles, has an epic feel that no other heavyweight on the UFC roster can currently match.
Nogueira is nowhere near as good as he was even a year ago. His hands are slowing and his strength is waning. That, just as much as his name, makes him a great opponent for Lesnar.
The rare combination of name value and beatability makes "Big Nog" the best possible opponent for Lesnar, should he choose to return.