All of the recent rumors regarding Brock Lesnar possibly returning to the UFC appear to have been nothing more than a well-crafted publicity stunt by World Wrestling Entertainment.
It all seemed too good to be true.
Georges St-Pierre had announced a few weeks ago that he was going on an indefinite hiatus, and Anderson Silva had hinted at retirement a few days out from UFC 168. What would the UFC do without its two biggest stars?
Then, from out of nowhere, a possible solution surfaced in the form of a familiar face. The rumor mill began buzzing about the possibility of Lesnar, a former UFC heavyweight champ and one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in MMA history, returning to the UFC to resume his fighting career.
Lesnar retired from MMA in December 2011 after losing to Alistair Overeem. His early exit from fighting was primarily due to medical reasons.
While competing in the UFC, Lesnar was diagnosed with diverticulitis, a serious intestinal disorder. He underwent a pair of major surgeries over the course of two years in hopes of repairing the illness and continuing to fight.
The final surgery was the last straw for Lesnar, who had a 12-inch piece of his colon removed. He went on to fight Overeem and retire immediately after suffering a first-round TKO loss.
The recent rumors even included talks of the UFC reaching out to MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko to fight Lesnar in a dream fight for the ages. Even former UFC interim heavyweight champ Shane Carwin was fooled. After the rumors of Lesnar’s potential return, Carwin immediately pushed aside his own retirement and hopped on Twitter to challenge Lesnar to a rematch of their July 2010 bout.
@danawhite got an extra ticket for tomorrow night? I'm hearing the bitch that will solve my itch will be there.— Shane Carwin (@ShaneCarwin) December 27, 2013
UFC President Dana White appeared completely unaware of the source of the rumors and downplayed Lesnar’s return talk over the UFC 168 weekend.
However, the puzzle quickly came together on Monday night, when Lesnar returned to the WWE on an episode of Monday Night Raw. According to MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer, Lesnar returning to the WWE on Dec. 30 was planned from the very beginning. The return wasn’t advertised in hopes of surprising WWE fans.
It seems as if the UFC wanted to piggyback off the hype for UFC 168 by throwing Lesnar’s name into the mix for a possible MMA return. Many news outlets have cited that Lesnar has a unique WWE deal in place that would allow him to wrestle in the WWE and compete in MMA. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t the case.
“WWE has exclusive rights to services (to Lesnar) and such exclusivity extends to ultimate fighting competitions,” a WWE official told Meltzer.
The WWE contract reportedly has Lesnar locked up until April 2015.