Brock Lesnar is back in the UFC. The phenom MMA and WWE star is set to interrupt a four-year hiatus from the octagon and will return to take on fellow legendary fighter Mark Hunt at UFC 200 in July.
After leaving the combat sport four years ago partially due to a digestive disease, Lesnar has decided to return to the UFC for a “one-off” fight with Hunt. The two fighters have no prior history with each other but, set up what should be an epic UFC 200 stage and gives MMA fans an intense heavyweight bout.
— UFC (@ufc) June 6, 2016
Reason For Return
The easiest reason to point to for Lesnar’s return is money, and even he openly admitted that he’s set to be paid “boatloads” for this massive fight. On top of the major green coming Lesnar’s way, however, he also seems to have both missed the sport, while also questioned his decision to retire in the first place.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 6, 2016
His return on July 9th could be an attempt to prove to himself he can exit the UFC with a win and on his own terms, or it could mean much more.
At least at the moment, this surprising return is looking like a short-lived one. Currently still under contract with the WWE, Lesnar is set to return to his current employer after this huge fight, as early as August. From there, it’s anyone’s guess what happens – especially if this return fight goes well. After all, he did exhibit regrets about retiring four years ago and could be eyeing one more title bid to go out on top.
Then again, Lesnar has a cushy spot at WWE, where he is a superstar and knows he’ll have better longevity.
Lesnar vs. Hunt
Lesnar was one of the more compelling UFC champions we’ve seen, as he had a very modest 5-3 record in just eight fights, but had very impressive wins over the likes of Randy Couture (to win the title belt), Frank Mir and a true masher in Shane Carwin. However, Lesnar wilted in his third title defense, succumbing to the power of Cain Velasquez. His last fight was an unimpressive run against another powerful fighter in Alistair Overeem.
Lesnar is a physical specimen, bringing bulk, athleticism and brute strength to the table, which allows him to hang in with most as a stand-up fighter. His best game is done by taking his opponent down and finishing him off on the ground, however.
Hunt, best known as The Super Samoan, is about as battle tested as a fighter can be. He’s just 12-10-1 throughout his UFC career, but the 42-year old is an incredibly accomplished fighter with years of championship experience even before he entered the octagon. He began his career with a nice 5-1 run and has lived to talk about losses to the likes of Fedor Emelianko, Josh Barnett, Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, Fabircio Werdum and Stipe Miocic.
Losing to great fighters isn’t necessarily the best argument for a fighter, but few out-lasted Fedor during his prime and Hunt did manage to go at least three rounds deep with both dos Santos and Miocic. He also owns solid wins over Ben Rothwell and has a two-fight win streak after taking down both Antonio Silva and Frank Mir.
The big question is how will these two match up?
There is no denying that Hunt (+103)has been around the sport longer and has faced even more headlining acts than Lesnar (-116) has. He’s a skilled fighter in his own right, has won his last two fights and has remained in the fighting scene. Lesnar could be rusty, may not take this fight overly seriously and possibly could be doing it for all the wrong reasons.
Hunt may have a skill advantage due to his kick-boxing background, but the 42-year old hasn’t had a ton of success against top flight opponents in, well, quite some time. He’s hung around or made things interesting, but even throughout his entire career, his opponent names are far more impressive then the names of the guys he’s actually beaten. Hunt is four years older, he’s not in nearly as good of shape as Lesnar and he’s not as athletic in general.
All of that being said, Hunt has a shot here if the fight stays off the ground. That doesn’t mean he has the clear edge, as Lesnar could over power him with his movement and strength and he could easily take things to the ground in a moment’s notice. It’s also worth noting that while Lesnar got abused in his last two fights, he’s been known to handle a beating or two and could have a massive chip on his shoulder in regards to his exit from the UFC the first time around.
This could be a true one-off fight and we never see Lesnar again, and he has to know that. I expect him to train hard, come in focused and keep himself from getting embarrassed by the aging Hunt.