At one of the best mixed martial arts fight cards of the year, UFC 199, one of the most astounding and surprising announcements of 2016 was made. Brock Lesnar, the former UFC Heavyweight champion would return.
Many remember Brock Lesnar (5-3, 4-3 in UFC) if they had been watching the UFC since 2009. You certainly couldn’t miss the mention of his name in those days. He was and still is one of the most prolific names in our sport. Coming over from a long stint as a Professional Wrestler with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), he brought with him a whole new following into the sport that translated into successful numbers and pay per view buys from the time he made his debut in 2008 to his eventual retirement in 2011
|February 2, 2008||Sylvia vs. Nogueria, Lesnar vs. Mir||UFC 81||600,000|
|August 9, 2008||St. Pierre vs. Fitch||UFC 87||625,000|
|November 15, 2008||Lesnar vs. Couture||UFC 91||1,010,000|
|July 11, 2009||Lesnar vs. Mir||UFC 100||1,600,000|
|July 3, 2010||Lesnar vs. Carwin||UFC 116||1,060,000|
|October 23, 2010||Lesnar vs. Velasquez||UFC 121||900,000|
|December 30, 2011||Lesnar vs. Overeem||UFC 141||535,000|
Lesnar has not competed since UFC 141 in December of 2011. That night, he faced a debuting Alistair Overeem and would fall due to strikes in the very first round. Lesnar had seemingly competed in his last bout that night as he made it somewhat evident that he would be walking away from the sport after several bouts with mononucleosis and diverticulitis. Many, including Brock, felt his battle with diverticulitis in particular was detrimental to his career as well as his UFC Heavyweight championship run.
Now Brock Lesnar will return to one of the biggest UFC cards since UFC 100 and will face former UFC title challenger Mark “Super Samoan” Hunt. Prior to his addition in the co-main event, one of the biggest debates leading up to the historic card was would it surpass UFC 100’s historic 1.6 million pay per view record that Brock himself helped to set. It was on this card that Lesnar faced off against his greatest rival Frank Mir in bad blood rematch for the Undisputed Heavyweight championship. Oddly enough, the main event of UFC 200 will feature a similar type of feud as Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former champion Jon Jones will meet in a long-awaited rematch to determine the true king at 205. With Lesnar now taking a backseat, it would be a near foregone conclusion now that this pay per view will finally be the one to dethrone the seemingly titanic record on 1.6 million that UFC 100 set just almost seven years ago back in 2009.
The reason why?
When Brock joined the UFC back in 2008, he was two years removed from his last pro wrestling match in the United States. While a part of the WWE he was certainly one of the most prolific stars of in the Sports Entertainment realm. He then left the WWE for a time back in 2006 to try his hand at professional football, joining the Minnasota Vikings of the NFL that season. Soon after he made his debut in MMA in 2007. The point being he was years removed from relevency around the time he would be prominently thrown in the UFC fray against the likes of Frank Mir, Randy Couture and Cain Velasquez.
The difference now? Brock is even bigger now than he ever was.
Since making his return to the WWE back in 2012, Brock’s popularity amongst the pro wrestling fans has soared. He has won multiple championships, headlined dozens of successful pay per views and infamously broke the unbeaten steak of the Undertaker at the Superbowl of pro wrestling, Wrestlemania back in 2014.
To have his superstardom back and then some, to being thrust upon the MMA scene in such an immediate fashion, especeially on the card that was already set to be monsterously successful? It’s just very hard to see how Lesnar’s megastardom doesn’t help to culminate the numbers that will undoubtedly push UFC 200 into the annals of legend when all is said and done. Putting Lesnar opposite one of the biggest stars in the Heavyweight division currently in Mark Hunt is just the very sweet cherry on top.