Brock Lesnar says he was “faking it” to fight through diverticulitis in first UFC run, “all in” on UFC 200 return

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Brock Lesnar (artist Grant Gould © MMATorch)

Brock Lesnar is coming back to the UFC next month at UFC 200, more than four years after continued battles with diverticulitis sent him out of the sport. But why fight someone like Mark Hunt now after all that time away?

“Why? Because I want to, that’s why,” Lesnar said in a video conversation with longtime friend, confidant, business partner, and storyline manager Paul Heyman via Heyman Hustle on Monday night. “And that’s the only reason anybody should do anything, right? Because you want to.

“When I left the UFC, I didn’t get to leave on my terms,” he continued. “And I’m not saying I’m coming back to end something that I didn’t get to finish on my terms. I want to be inside the Octagon again. I want to be inside the Octagon healthy. I want to be inside the Octagon under my terms. When I was inside the Octagon in my last few fights I believe I wasn’t the man that I needed to be. I was faking it. I was faking it just to be in there. I was faking it that a disease [wasn’t] more powerful than me. I was faking it that I was more powerful than it. I want to go back into that Octagon. I want to have fun.

“The lasting memories of me as an ultimate fighter aren’t very good ones because of the discomfort and the pain and the unhealthiness of it. I felt I needed to be in the Octagon to prove, to beat this disease. I ended up getting beat by foes that, in my mindset, I should have never lost to. I lost to diverticulitis. I’m man enough to sit here and say I lost to Cain Velasquez, I lost to Alistair Overeem. But the losses, I’m not here to avenge any loss, other than to avenge the loss I took against diverticulitis. I just want it. I just want it, Paul.”

Heyman revealed that Lesnar had actually been sick with symptoms that turned out to be diverticulitis for years, before he even stepped into the cage for the first time, so this return now sees him as healthy as he’s ever been.

“All I know is that life is all about timing, and the timing for me on this just feels right,” Lesnar said. “I feel great, and I’m just ready to do this. I’ve been ready for a while, and I’m just glad for the opportunity… I don’t feel any older. I don’t sit here and take myself back in time and wonder how I felt back then. I go with how the hell I feel right now, and I feel really good. That’s all I can go by.

Lesnar also made it clear that he’s taking this one-off fight completely seriously, and wouldn’t have come back if he didn’t believe he could perform at his best.

“Dana White didn’t call me up for this. I made the phone call,” Lesnar said. “You can’t get into the Octagon half-assedly. Nor would I make the call if I wanted to half-assedly get in the Octagon. I’m smarter than that, I know how dangerous it is. It’s a dangerous sport. I wouldn’t put my health at risk [like that]… I’m 100% all in. All in. No doubts in my mind. At all.”

Penick’s Analysis: This is a talking point Lesnar and Heyman have pushed on a number of occasions, and if it’s truly the first time Lesnar will be competing at optimum health we could see something more impressive than we did when he won and defended the UFC Heavyweight Title. It’s been one of the great “what if” conversations because of how serious his attacks were, and how much that illness took from him during his run. It’s hard to know exactly what we’re getting from him at UFC 200, but he’s coming back full force, and we’ll see his best effort under the circumstances.

[Brock Lesnar art by Grant Gould (c)]

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