Rumors took over the internet Wednesday that Brock Lesnar was preparing for a return to UFC, but it appears, at this time at least, that the rumors are more smoke than (great balls of) fire.
Rumors began when Twitter user @TalkMMA tweeted out late on Tuesday that “Paul Heyman and Brock were at the UFC HQ during (International Fight Week). (They) had a meeting with the UFC brass. Brock’s return is eminent [sic]. Most likely at MSG on Nov 4.”
If Lesnar were to return to fight for UFC there are several hurdles that would need to be overcome. First is his current contract with WWE. Any forays into fighting before his contract expire following 2018’s Wrestlemania event on April 8 would need to be approved by WWE. Fortunately for Lesnar, he was given permission to fight Mark Hunt at UFC 200 last summer.
Additionally, and there is no way around this, Lesnar will be required to ride out the rest of his one-year suspension for testing positive for Clomiphene before and immediately after the Hunt fight. Lesnar “retired” from MMA in February which meant that he was no longer required to submit samples and report his whereabouts for USADA testing, but it also meant that the remaining five months of his suspension were frozen. Should Lesnar choose to return, he will have to re-enter the USADA testing pool and wait until the suspension is up in approximately five months. During this time, Lesnar would be required to provide his whereabouts to USADA and comply with random unannounced testing. Once Lesnar is tested, it would soon become public knowledge and USADA is likely to test Lesnar soon and often once he’s in the pool due to his stature and history.
It should be noted that it came out after his test failure last year that Lesnar is not subject to WWE’s drug testing program due to his status as a part-time performer. He was also not punished by WWE for the USADA failure.
The timeline makes it nearly impossible for Lesnar to make the Nov. 4 show in New York City, but the Dec. 30 show from Las Vegas could still be in play if Lesnar enters the testing pool soon. There is also the possibility of Lesnar returning once his WWE run is complete next year and he is free and clear to sign elsewhere. A final option is that this is little more than a negotiation ploy to secure a better deal with WWE.
UFC President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky told MMA Junkie unequivocally that Lesnar “is not currently enrolled in the USADA testing pool, nor has there been any inquiry on his part to do so.” Novitsky also said that a retired athlete would be required to be available for six-months worth of testing before being eligible to compete, putting even the December show out of the picture.
That said, all it will take for Lesnar to get back into the pool and begin that path to fighting again is one letter of intent. In the meantime Lesnar will continue performing in WWE and fans will keep their eyes on that USADA testing page looking for the name Brock Lesnar.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Until we see that he’s in the testing pool, it’s hard to take this as anything more than a rumor or at best a negotiation tactic. If Lesnar does enter the pool, I can’t see him doing it just to try and get a better deal out of WWE, so I would take it seriously then.
There are some signs from Lesnar’s recent WWE appearances that fighting could be on his mind. Lesnar worked a short match with Samoa Joe earlier this month at Great Balls of Fire, which could indicate he’s actively avoiding injury to ensure a return to fighting in the near future. Also, it is looking like his Summerslam match next month will be a multi-man match rather than a one-on-one match, which would also give Lesnar the opportunity to do less and protect his body. Before it was announced that Lesnar was returning for UFC 200 last year, he worked a curiously tame match with Dean Ambrose at Wrestlemania despite the fact that it was promoted as a weapons match, which typically comes with increased physicality.
If Lesnar does want to return to UFC, I welcome the idea as it will induce some star power to the promotion that is suffering from the losses of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Jon Jones continued to taunt Daniel Cormier over social media Wednesday when he posted a picture of himself standing on a scale while holding onto a towel, mocking Cormier’s controversial UFC 210 last-second weigh-in back in April.
-A four-part All-Access series building up the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight will debut on Showtime on July 28 at 10 p.m. ET and run for four weeks.
–MMA Fighting is reporting that UFC 213 headlined by Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker after Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko fell through at the last minute, did between 125,000 and 150,000 buys, UFC’s lowest of the year so far. Bellator NYC did between 90,000 and 130,000 buys for the show headlined by Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva.
-Pro-wrestler Alberto El Patron (Jose Rodriguez) will be stepping down as the public face of Combate Americas company CEO Campbell McLaren told MMA Uno. McLaren says Rodriguez wants to focus on wrestling and did not acknowledge recent allegations of abuse against him in the interview.
-UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway’s manager, Brian Butler, told MMA Junkie radio that his client’s first title defense is likely to be against Frankie Edgar.
FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUNDUP
-Germaine de Randamie returning to 135 against Marion Renau at UFC Fight Night Rotterdam on Sept. 2.
-Thiago Alves vs. Mike Perry and Hector Lombard vs. Anthony Smith for UFC Fight Night Pittsburgh on Sept. 16.
Check out Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson from May 2014 HERE.
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST 7/19: Bellator outdraws UFC in viewership last weekend (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)