For the first time in nearly a decade, former UFC and WWE champion Brock Lesnar is a free agent.
According to PWInsider’s Mike Johnson, Lesnar’s most recent contract with WWE expired in August, and the two sides reportedly hit “an impasse” during negotiations, leading to “paused discussions” between the two sides.
“This leaves Lesnar on the open market where he could, if he desires, field offers from outside WWE, whether it be AEW or other wrestling promotions, UFC, or even outside endeavors beyond combat sports,” Johnson reported.
Lesnar has done it all throughout his athletic career, whether he was winning a national title as an NCAA heavyweight at the University of Minnesota, becoming the youngest WWE champion in the company’s history at 25 years old, or tearing through the MMA scene en route to a UFC heavyweight title.
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He tested out the waters for a potential NFL career and went through training camp with the Minnesota Vikings, and even spent time wrestling in Japan before his jump into MMA.
With a resume like that, the opportunities are seemingly endless as Lesnar looks ahead to the next chapter in his life. Will he simply return to WWE when the time is right and finish out his entertainment career there? Or, does he have the desire to return to MMA, especially at a time where the UFC’s heavyweight division has all sorts of hype around it?
To help Lesnar out, let’s evaluate each option the 43-year-old has to consider over the next few weeks and months.
A return to the UFC?
If Brock Lesnar has any motivation to hop back into the Octagon and make up for his failed drug test from his most recent fight against Mark Hunt, now is the time to do it.
The former UFC heavyweight champion was last seen in the company back at UFC 200 in 2016, winning in what appeared to be a unanimous decision against Hunt and proving to the world that he could still compete at a high level.
Then, news broke of two positive tests for clomiphene and resulting suspensions from the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the United States Anti-Doping Agency, and Lesnar’s career fell by the wayside.
But, after a second “retirement” from the sport in 2017, Lesnar found his way back into the cage after Daniel Cormier won the heavyweight title against Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 in 2018. A day later, it was confirmed that Lesnar was trying to re-enter USADA’s drug-testing pool for a potential return.
The fight against Cormier never came to fruition, and two years later, Cormier says he’s now retired from the sport. But, the UFC’s heavyweight division is at one of its most exciting times in years, as Miocic reigns supreme as champion while names like Francis Ngannou and former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones go at it on social media in search of a title shot.
If Lesnar wanted some big-money fights in 2021 to solidify his return to MMA, he has the perfect opportunity to do so.
Lesnar fighting against a powerful fighter like Ngannou, the sport’s arguable G.O.A.T. in Jones, or the arguable greatest heavyweight in MMA history in Miocic could all shatter company records and give Lesnar a payout he wants.
It’s a risky move considering the talent pool to work with and the amount of time in since Lesnar’s last fight in the Octagon, but it would be the perfect way to finish out his time in the spotlight if the hunger is there to get back into the business.
A fight in another promotion?
This one seems much less likely, but Lesnar could theoretically get his MMA fix in another company that would be willing to pay top-dollar for a one-off superfight.
Bellator President Scott Coker told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that he would be interested in booking Lesnar against another one of the sport’s all-time heavyweights: Fedor Emelianenko.
While the fight would be happening about a decade too late, it would be Lesnar’s best chance at taking out a big name like Emelianenko to add to his resume, and, again, make some serious cash in the process.
If it’s a one-time deal he’s looking for, Bellator or another MMA company may pony up more money than UFC would, and Lesnar would get everything he’s looking for.
A return to WWE?
This is likely the most obvious option out of the bunch, given Lesnar’s workload and success (both in the ring and financially) over the last eight years.
Lesnar has only wrestled 64 times in a WWE ring since his return to the company in 2012, and the amount of money he’s been paid to do so is likely astronomical at this point. He held WWE and Universal Championships for several months at a time over the last six years, and takes very little damage in many of the matches he competed in.
At 43 years old, it may be a lot to ask for Lesnar to get back into fighting shape, and stay there for a year-plus if he wants to make a run at the UFC’s heavyweight division. But, with the part-time schedule he crafted for himself over the last eight years, he can do what he wants, when he wants, and make a lot of money in the process.
WWE may simply be waiting to bring Lesnar back when fans are able to return to arenas for the company’s live shows, and may not want to pay Lesnar millions of dollars to perform in front of empty venues with no shock value or crowd reactions to work with.
When the time is right and things are as close to “back to normal” as possible, don’t be surprised to hear Lesnar’s WWE entrance theme ring through an arena’s sound system once again, with thousands of people screaming in excitement as a result.
A stint in another wrestling company?
Similar to the MMA debate, could Lesnar take his ball and roll elsewhere in the professional wrestling world, specifically to a rival company like All Elite Wrestling?
No matter where Lesnar goes, he’s going to have a ton of star-power attached to him. But, it’s tough to match what Lesnar brings to the table inside of the squared circle, considering his history in professional wrestling and the status he’s built up as a major draw in WWE.
Because of that, WWE will likely try its best to keep its prized creation around, no matter the necessary cost to make it happen. Vince McMahon will throw money at someone or something if he knows it will pay off in the long run, and he’s had more than a decade’s worth of experience with Lesnar over the last 20 years to know Lesnar’s the real deal.
If Lesnar decides to head elsewhere, however, AEW may jump at the opportunity to land such a massive draw, and stick it to a competing company in the process.
Lesnar doesn’t exactly fit the mold of wrestler that AEW is trying to employ at the moment, and the money may not be there as a result of COVID-19, but it’s a fun idea for both us as viewers and Lesnar himself to explore.
The end of Brock Lesnar in the world of entertainment?
Like it was mentioned before, Lesnar has more money than anyone could imagine, all as a result of decades of success across a multitude of sports, companies and endeavors. Because of that, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the former UFC and WWE champion ride off into the sunset, AKA his humble abode in Saskatchewan.
Lesnar has nothing left to truly prove to himself, outside of whether or not he wants to return to the Octagon in his 40s and win a fight against a top-tier heavyweight. He’s made money to support himself and his family, and is content living a life away from the spotlight and deep in the woods.
Boredom and competitive hunger may bring him out of the darkness and into the light created by professional sports. But, if he’s truly happy away from professional wrestling and MMA, then fans may have seen the last of Lesnar in an athletic setting when he lost the WWE Championship to Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 36.