wrestling / Columns

The Magnificent Seven: 7 Potential Outcomes of Lesnar’s Return to UFC

July 20, 2018 | Posted by Mike Chin
Brock Lesnar Brock Lesnar Survivor Series WrestleMania

Brock Lesnar’s appearance at UFC 226—let alone getting into the cage and shoving Daniel Cornmier—set the wheels in motion for something historic as a reigning world champion from WWE made clear his intentions to challenge for one of the top titles in MMA. But what will actually happen? There are a range of possibilities, and this week’s column takes a look at seven of them.

7. Lesnar Finishes with WWE Before He Fights

A lot of the intrigue of Brock Lesnar showing up at UFC 226 had to do with the fact that he’s the reigning WWE Universal Champion. Sure, he’s a big star and a big draw with a UFC pedigree, and heck, anyone from WWE getting into the Octagon is news. But as the guy who holds arguably WWE’s top title, there’s a lot at stake for WWE in the equation. If he were to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship, too, it could be huge for WWE’s credibility, not to mention inviting more opportunities for the worked shoot intrigue that Lesnar has specialized in since his 2012 return to the WWE Universe.

But what if WWE wipes its hands of Lesnar first?

Rumors have persisted that WWE and Lesnar are at odds. While there’s a fuzzy line between storyline and reality in all of this, it’s conspicuous that WWE didn’t hype Lesnar’s return to UFC on the following Raw. With the widely reported story that Lesnar is working on a highly paid per appearance contract, it would absolutely make sense for Vince McMahon to book Lesnar to drop the Universal Championship to Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, or Bobby Lashley in the imminent future, before he ever fights again and risks losing in public fashion.

6. Lesnar Reigns Over WWE Only

While it’s not the worst case scenario, if Brock Lesnar keeps the Universal Championship through his return to the Octagon, and Daniel Cornmier puts him to sleep, it’s not a great look for WWE. Indeed, Lesnar reigning over WWE only would reinforce what everyone already understands as true—that, en masse, sports entertainers can’t compete at the level of MMA fighters.

More than confirming what people believe, losing this fight would remove some of Lesnar’s mystique. Some of his value as a dominant WWE star is rooted in the theory that he’s a dominant real-life fighter, too. Maybe WWE would look past the loss, taking it as a reassurance they have Lesnar locked up, and can justify a less exorbitant contract without the threat of Lesnar leaving them for MMA. Most likely, WWE would probably continue to employ Lesnar for as long as he was willing, but wouldn’t necessarily keep him on top.

5. Lesnar Walks from WWE

One of the least savory outcomes of Brock Lesnar fighting for UFC again is if he were to thrive in MMA, and not give back to WWE one iota. Given the word on The Beast Incarnate’s contract, it seems entirely feasible that he simply never shows up on WWE programming again.

Lesnar defeating Daniel Cornmier for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, and utterly shunning sports entertainment would feel an awful lot like his original departure from WWE—a bit of a slap in the face to the company and everyone who put him over. That said, if Lesnar were to thrive in MMA at a similar level to what he accomplished previously, his ongoing, if not elevated star power may well justify WWE offering him a deal again down the road.

4. Lesnar Doesn’t Actually Fight

Given the pomp and circumstance around his contrived appearance at the end of UFC 226, and that UFC has officially announded Brock Lesnar will challenge Daniel Cornmier, it seems pretty established that the fight will happen. There’s always the possibility, though, particularly in real sports, that it won’t actually occur. Given Lesnar’s track record with performance enhancing drugs, it may be that he doesn’t clean up his act sufficiently. Given Lesnar’s age, there’s also the possibility of injury, or coming to the conclusion he’s not going to win, and opting out of going through with the fight at all.

This isn’t the most likely outcome, but with the cushion of WWE continuing to shell out for him, not to mention that he’s already got to be sitting on a small fortune, it’s not as though Lesnar needs this fight.

3. Lesnar Wins For Real, Loses In the Ring

In arguably WWE’s best-case scenario, the company keeps the Universal Championship on Brock Lesnar until, say, WrestleMania 35. Meanwhile Lesnar challenges Cornier in early 2019 and wins.

For Lesnar to lose the Universal Championship in WWE while still holding onto his UFC Championship would be a brilliant feather in WWE’s cap to, by the transitive property, suggest that whomever holds the Universal Championship is tougher than the best of UFC. In a world with more smart fans than not, this is a silly conclusion for any reasoned adult to come to, but it would nonetheless lend WWE some credence in pushing the story of itself as the home of the best in combat sports, not to mention setting up further crossover stars from MMA down the road to avenge Lesnar’s loss on behalf of their sport.

2. Lesnar Loses it All

While Brock Lesnar currently stands in the unique position in which he could realistically hold world titles in WWE and UFC concurrently, there’s also the very real possibility that he loses out on both championships. This might mean dropping the Universal Championship on the way out the door of WWE, so WWE can head off the possibility of its champion either losing in the Octagon or abandoning WWE if he wins. Alternatively, it might mean losing in UFC, and WWE wanting its title off him ASAP to save face if that’s the case.

The good news for Lesnar? He actually doesn’t have much to lose. While he’s a businessman, likely milking his last MMA fight and the twilight of his time in sports entertainment, his financial status is surely secure at this point. For better or for worse, there’s no indication he takes wrestling or his legacy in WWE all that seriously, so losing there isn’t likely to faze him. While losing in UFC probably does matter a good bit more to Lesnar, there’s little shame in a forty-year-old man returning to a sport he hasn’t competed in regularly for years, and losing to a champion.

1. Lesnar Rules The World

From a variety of perspectives, Brock Lesnar reigning over both WWE and UFC doesn’t seem all that likely. WWE is as likely as not to hedge its best and get the title off him before he fights, or to get the title off him soon after if he were to win UFC gold again. There’s the other side of the equation, too, that Lesnar is older and has been out of the MMA game for some time he can’t be considered a favorite to win championship gold there.

But what if he does?

Perhaps the most intriguing possibility of all would be for Lesnar to hold top titles in WWE and UFC simultaneously, and for an extended period of time, making him the unequivocal top name in fighting, real or predetermined. Sure, some of the luster of this proposition is gone based on Lesnar mostly underperforming as Universal Champion—having few matches that were much good, and working an increasingly sporadic schedule. Just the same, the possibility of a crossover champ may be just enticing enough for WWE to ride out his UFC return and see what they can do.

What outcomes would you add to the list? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Read more from Mike Chin at his website and follow him on Twitter @miketchin.

article topics :

Brock Lesnar, UFC, WWE, Mike Chin