After a weekend of questions not being asked and rumors abounding about Brock Lesnar returning to the UFC, it now appears much of it was a publicity stunt to get his name out for his return to World Wrestling Entertainment at Monday's live Raw show in Richmond, Va.
Lesnar, 36, who was the biggest drawing heavyweight champion in UFC history, hasn't fought since losing to Alistair Overeem on Dec. 30, 2011 via first-round ref stoppage. Lesnar retired as a fighter, saying at the time that he promised his wife (former wrestling personality Sable) that had he won, he'd have fought once more and gone for a title rematch with Cain Velasquez, but if he lost he would retire.
Lesnar signed a lucrative one-year contract with WWE in April 2012, and then signed a two-year renewal before that deal expired. Lesnar had previously worked for WWE from 2000 to 2004. Lesnar had made an international name as a headliner which was a huge part of his UFC marketability.
While rumors have surfaced regularly about him returning to UFC, and he did verbally agree to do a proposed match with Fedor Emelianenko in 2012, which never came to fruition. UFC was negotiating with Emelianenko for a match that would have taken place at Cowboys Stadium, but when Emelianenko's father died in August, 2012, he told UFC officials that he was retired and wouldn't fight again. When Dana White recounted the story months later, he said that Lesnar told him at the time that he also wasn't interested in fighting again once that match fell through. Still, it is questionable that even if Lesnar agreed to the match, that he would be able to do it because of his WWE contract which would only allow such a thing if WWE owner Vince McMahon were to agree to the deal.
White, over the weekend, had said that he didn't know anything about Lesnar rumors, which resurfaced regarding a match with Emelianenko. But given the news last night that Lesnar would return to WWE, it made the timing of those rumors as likely a publicity plant to build for his return to pro wrestling Monday. It was foreshadowed Sunday night when the WWE was taping a television show that would air on Friday, after Monday's show, and an interview talked about what Lesnar had done on Monday (which airs live tonight) on Raw to Mark Henry.
The return was supposed to be a surprise to fans, as WWE has not advertised or announced Lesnar's return, although sources in the company have confirmed his return on Dec. 30 has always been the plan.
Lesnar has a unique pro wrestling contract where he only works a few major events a year, and does television only leading up to those events. He most recently disappeared from WWE television in August. He will wrestle again at the Royal Rumble, the WWE's second biggest event of the year, on Jan. 26, in Pittsburgh, and again at WrestleMania, on April 6, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
In the latter match, he is scheduled to face The Undertaker in a match actually set up in 2010 when the two staged having words at a UFC event in on Oct. 23, 2010, in Anaheim, Calif., just minutes after Lesnar had lost the UFC heavyweight title to Cain Velasquez. The plan at the time was for Lesnar to face Undertaker at the 2011 WrestleMania, but Lesnar was under an exclusive contract to UFC, which would not allow him to do the pro wrestling match.
But all talk of Lesnar doing MMA is just that. The stories have usually cited that Lesnar has a unique WWE deal that would allow him to fight, which is not the case.
"WWE has exclusive rights to services (to Lesnar) and such exclusivity extends to ultimate fighting competitions," said a WWE official.
Lesnar's WWE contract will not expire until April 2015.