From holding the Universal Championship for the better part of the year to extending his contract with WWE, Brock Lesnar's 2018 was nothing short of interesting, but fans have been left with more questions than answers regarding his professional future as we enter 2019.
One of the bigger stories of 2018 was how Lesnar decided to stick with WWE post-WrestleMania 34 despite rumors indicating he was eyeing a return to UFC. It wasn't until SummerSlam that he dropped the Universal title to Roman Reigns, and even then his hiatus from WWE was short-lived.
The Beast Incarnate resurfaced at September's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view before regaining the gold at Crown Jewel in November. His next title defense is scheduled to take place at January 27's Royal Rumble against Braun Strowman, though whether he will walk out still the champion is unknown.
Although Strowman has fallen short of beating Brock multiple times in the past, and even though it would make sense for him to finally win the big one at the Rumble, Lesnar retaining the title is more likely. There aren't any obvious WrestleMania matches for him that don't involve the universal title, and it would be an odd move for WWE to have him compete at the Rumble and not at 'Mania.
In addition to Strowman, Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre are both determined to challenge for Raw's top prize at this year's spring spectacle by way of winning the Royal Rumble match. Either of them would be a compelling opponent for Lesnar at 'Mania. Either way, it is all but a guarantee that Lesnar will not be in possession of the prestigious prize beyond April 7's event.
From there, Lesnar can bow out of WWE and fully commit to stepping inside the Octagon again sometime in 2019.
Lesnar last fought for the UFC in July 2016, defeating Mark Hunt by unanimous decision. However, the result was overturned to a no-contest when it was revealed that Lesnar had violated USADA's Anti-Doping Policy and was therefore suspended for one year.
Granting Lesnar the elusive opportunity to compete in the Octagon while still under WWE contract turned out to be a publicity nightmare for the promotion, so it's unknown whether WWE would be willing to test those waters again.
Lesnar made headlines when he confronted UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Comier at UFC 226 in July, and although the fight was predicted to take place at the onset of 2019, no date has been set for the face-off.
It's seems like Lesnar is using his appearances in UFC as a leverage point so he can re-sign with the promotion for more money when it next comes to renewing his contract. He has been a major attraction for WWE since his highly anticipated return in 2012, but the time has come for Vince McMahon's company to move on from the Lesnar era.
Fans will forever remember his instant classics against the likes of John Cena, AJ Styles, Goldberg and CM Punk, but he is more of a hindrance than a help to the product these days. The amount of money WWE is paying Lesnar to keep him around clearly isn't worth it if his matches and appearances are so far and few between.
That said, he would undoubtedly draw for UFC in the same way he was a decade ago, especially if it meant fights with Cormier and Jon Jones could come to pass.
In the seven years Lesnar has been back with WWE, he has lost to only a handful of Superstars on the active roster. Cena, Triple H and Goldberg were among the elite few (though they hardly benefited from beating The Beast), while Reigns' SummerSlam victory over Lesnar was somewhat diminished when Reigns was forced to take time off indefinitely soon after.
If he is on his way out in 2019, WWE should have him put over a fresh face who could use the boost, such as Strowman, Rollins or McIntyre. That way, the company would be making the most of his name value and ensuring that the many years spent protecting him wouldn't go to waste.
Lesnar is destined for big things regardless of where he winds up in 2019, but for fans' sake, hopefully the Octagon is his destination.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.