Why Brock Lesnar is attractive to UFC

UFC is gearing up for another Brock Lesnar return, this time to challenge new heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier, probably early next year.

It’s not because Lesnar is anywhere close to being a legitimate contender at this stage in his athletics career.

Lesnar, who turns 41 on Thursday, most recently fought in the Octagon in 2016, defeating Mark Hunt in the ring before having the result ruled later a no-contest after it was revealed that Lesnar had failed two PED tests.

Even with that recent history, why Dana White would want to go back to Lesnar as an opponent for Cormier, who upset Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 this past weekend, is obvious.

Two words: PPV buys.

Lesnar hasn’t been truly competitive in MMA since his 2010 UFC heavyweight title loss to Cain Velasquez, but he can still move the needle in terms of buyrate.

UFC 200, with Hunt-Lesnar, recorded more than a million pay-per-view buys, which, when you consider that last month’s UFC 225, the last one for which we have full figures, did less than 150,000, yeah, you can see where this is going.

For Lesnar, the motivation is equally obvious. He banked $2.5 million for UFC 200, and despite having to pay a $250,000 fine for the PED violation, he still made some serious coin for a night’s work.

Lesnar has had it pretty easy in WWE since his return in 2012, making a few cameo appearances on “Raw” on Monday nights, and otherwise appearing intermittently as the headliner on a handful of monthly WWE Network events as the Universal champion, while earning a reported $6.5 million for his work in WWE in 2017, according to Forbes.

Which is to say, no, he doesn’t need the side gig, but then, who’s going to turn another couple of million down when it’s thrust in front of your face?

For Lesnar, there’s also the lure of another chance to prove himself in actual competition, at a time when those opportunities would appear to be dwindling.

And in Cormier, 39, he has an opponent who is also in the latter stages of a storied athletics career, and who gives up four inches and at least 40 pounds to the 6’3”, 286-pound Lesnar.

Not that it would be easy, but if you’re Lesnar, you look at the chance to dethrone Cormier as not your last MMA match, but the first of a possible series of matches and big-money paydays.

And if he loses? WWE is always there as a fallback, with Lesnar’s reigns with the Universal belt the best thing the creative folks there have been able to put together to paper over for their failure to convince fans that Roman Reigns is the Next Next Big Thing.

He’s really in a no-lose situation, as are White and Cormier, which is why this is going to happen, as money continues to make the world go ‘round.

Column by Chris Graham

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