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A Brock Lesnar Fight Is Exactly What the UFC Needs—and Just Might Get

Jeremy Botter@jeremybotterMMA Senior WriterMarch 1, 2018

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 9: Brock Lesnar prepares to fight Mark Hunt during the UFC 200 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 9, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Brock Lesnar might be coming back to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. 

Every few years or so, the rumors start cropping up. 

Brock still has the itch to fight. 

Brock feels like he has unfinished business in mixed martial arts. 

Brock is ready to ditch scripted WWE combat for the real thing. 

It is no coincidence that these rumors have begun circulating right as Lesnar's current contract with WWE is coming to an end. Lesnar is a master negotiator and manipulator; he is a world-class businessman stuffed into an athletic body.

Lesnar isn't a professional wrestler because he grew up a fan of the sport, like many others. He's a professional wrestler because it was the path that offered him the ability to make the most money right out of college. He went back to pro wrestling after his first stint in the UFC because Vince McMahon wanted him back and wanted him back badly enough to offer him a massive contract that required him to work few days each year. 

We did this same dance a few years ago. Lesnar, his contract with WWE coming to an end, attended a UFC event as Dana White's special guest. The speculation started mounting. In the end, Lesnar went on SportsCenter on March 24, 2015, and told the world that he'd re-signed with WWE. He said he felt great but that "something was mentally lacking," and that he'd chosen to return to WWE because he could work part-time for full-time pay. 

Of course, in 2016, Lesnar did return to UFC with the permission of Vince McMahon. He beat Mark Hunt and earned $2.5 million and failed a drug test and earned a one-year ban from the sport (and his win was turned into a no-contest), which was fine because he was retiring from mixed martial arts, anyway. He'd proved he could still hang with top-tier heavyweights. That's all he wanted. 

Except, maybe it wasn't all he wanted. Because here we are, in 2018, and the hype for a Lesnar return to the UFC is building. 

Paul Heyman, Lesnar's on-screen WWE manager, was accosted by TMZ at the airport, and Heyman, never one to mince his words, said that Lesnar was primed for a WWE comeback. A few days later, right as the UFC event on Fox was beginning, Dana White posted a photo of he and Lesnar at the UFC's offices in Las Vegas. Lesnar was wearing a UFC shirt; White was wearing the biggest smile you've ever seen.

Dana White @danawhite

😃 https://t.co/2AVR6HmAjR

On Wednesday, White went on Kevin Harvick's SiriusXM show and said the chances of Lesnar fighting for the UFC in 2018 are "very, very good." 

SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) @SiriusXMNASCAR

"They're very, very, very good." -@ufc President @danawhite to @KevinHarvick on @BrockLesnar's chances of fighting again in UFC. Listen in 👇#HappyHours https://t.co/p8ZCdrR9Kt

But we've been here before. We've all gotten our hopes up and then had them dashed. We know in our gut that Lesnar is probably just using this idea of a UFC return to get McMahon to pony up even more cash for even fewer dates. After all, he's done it before. 

But this one feels different. It feels real. 

It feels like it might actually happen. And it couldn't come at a better time for the UFC. 

The world's largest fighting promotion has a superstar problem. By this, of course, I mean that they are sorely lacking superstars. Ronda Rousey has joined Lesnar in WWE. Conor McGregor is on the sidelines, and he might just stay there forever, counting his millions from the Floyd Mayweather farce. Jon Jones is out for a while and, unless USADA has mercy on him, might be out for a few years.

The UFC needs Lesnar. Badly. 

John Locher/Associated Press

Meanwhile, over in WWE, Lesnar is about to cede the top spot in the company to Roman Reigns. The two face off at WrestleMania, and a Reigns win over Lesnar is a certainty.

McMahon has sought to make Reigns his top superstar for several years now, but fan revolt has prevented it from coming to fruition. This year, McMahon is using Lesnar's real-life contract negotiation ploys as a tool to get the fans in Reigns' corner. We'll know in the next few weeks if the blending of real life and fiction helps accomplish his goal. 

Roman Reigns
Roman ReignsBrandon Wade/Associated Press

But with Reigns pushing Lesnar out of that top company spot, there's no real need for WWE to pay Lesnar the kind of money he'll want. They will have used him to accomplish their goal: cementing Reigns as their top star right now and well into the future.

And then there's Lesnar himself. His WWE contract technically expires after WrestleMania, but portions of it extend into August. It would prevent him from signing with the UFC outright until it expires. 

While no one but Lesnar can say for certain what he's thinking, a source close to his camp says his dalliance with the UFC isn't a negotiation ploy. Not this time.

Lesnar wants to fight, and he wants to fight soon. As for potential opponents, the bout with Jones is obviously the biggest money fight the UFC has available—and perhaps the biggest money fight in UFC history—but Jones had his license in California revoked on Tuesday, and he still faces punishment from USADA over his failed test from last summer. 

But there's also Daniel Cormier, who—provided he beats Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title this July—would serve as an ideal opponent for Lesnar's return. Cormier vs. Lesnar for the UFC heavyweight title? That sounds like the perfect recipe for the superstar doldrums, even if the idea of Lesnar receiving a title shot after zero wins since 2018 is as ludicrous as it gets in this crazy sport. Cormier and Lesnar are friends, but you can bet your last dollar that both men would agree to that fight in a heartbeat. 

Of course, there's the possibility that we're all being played, and that Lesnar will go on SportsCenter in a few weeks and announce that he's sticking with WWE and retiring from MMA

Or maybe we'll get a Brock Lesnar fight week circus at least one more time. 

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