clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Brock Lesnar to face Mark Hunt at UFC 200

Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Brock Lesnar has an opponent for his UFC 200 showdown.

Joining Hannah Storm during the Monday morning edition of SportsCenter, the 38-year-old fighter revealed he will face Mark Hunt at the July 9 event.

"Why not? It could be anybody. I didn't care," Lesnar said of the announcement. "If Dana White called me and said, 'You have opponent X, Y, and Z, who do you want?' He never gave me those options. This is the guy that we want you to face, I said, 'Great. This is what I'm going to do.'"

Lesnar said the bout came to fruition simply. Sitting at his farm in Canada, sipping on a cup of coffee, Lesnar couldn't shake the feeling that he didn't finish what he started inside the UFC Octagon.

"I couldn’t live with that decision [stepping away from MMA]," Lesnar said. "Going back to that interview [when I said I was done with MMA for good], it was a hard decision for me to make. That decision has haunted me for the last 15 months, and I figured I couldn’t live like that for the rest of my life.

"I’m a big believer of living out your dreams and facing your fears and just facing the reality of, I don’t want to be sitting 20 years from now and saying, ‘You know what son? You should’ve went and did that.’ And here I am. And on the biggest stage of all – I was on UFC 100, so why not be on UFC 200?"

He rectified the situation the only way he knew how: He picked up the phone, dialing UFC President Dana White.

"It’s very simple. Nobody called me. It was nobody else’s idea," Lesnar said. "Dana didn’t pick up the phone because [they] need to fill a spot. It didn’t happen like that. I picked up the phone. It was me. I don’t even remember [when]. It was three months ago. It’s taken some time for things to play out, but I just said, ‘What are the chances of having Brock Lesnar on the card at UFC 200?’ And we got together, obviously I’m still under contract with WWE."

Getting around that hurdle, much like making the initial phone call, was easy for Lesnar.

"You just go in and sit down and have a big-boy conversation with the boss, [WWE Owner and CEO] Vince McMahon," Lesnar said. "It’s simple. It’s billionaire business, and I’m big business, so why the hell wouldn’t anybody want Brock Lensar involved?

"...I’m a crossover athlete. I’m a modern-day Bo Jackson, people, and I’m excited about it. I’m enthusiastic. I couldn’t be more excited and honored to have the opportunity that both companies have faith in Brock Lensar to allow him to step back into the Octagon."

Regarding the extent of the deal, Lesnar wouldn't comment on the specifics. However, he did say everyone will make out just fine when the checks cash.

"I can’t disclose. There’s lots of zeroes behind it," Lesnar said. "...I’m not here to brag about it. I’m here to state that, listen, I’m a prizefighter and everybody’s making money. At the end of the day, this is going to be an exciting show for me. I’m honored to be a part of it. It’s humbling to sit here and to actually announce to the world. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders because I’ve been carrying this around, and, yeah, it’s for real."

Making the transition back to the Octagon even more exciting for Lesnar is the fact that he feels he was robbed during his first stint with the UFC. After defending his UFC heavyweight title against Frank Mir at UFC 100, Lesnar battled a case of diverticulitis, getting sidelined for almost a year. While he defeated Shane Carwin in his first fight back from recovering, he lost his next two, both via TKO.

According to Lesnar, it wasn't Cain Velasquez or Alistair Overeem who bested him, though.

" the top of my career, I wasn’t at the top of my game, so I felt like I was cheated out of my career in the UFC," Lesnar said. "In my mind and in my heart, I never lost to a foe. I never lost to my opponent. I lost to diverticulitis. That was my opponent that beat me.

"Other people may have other thoughts and say other things about the way I performed. My performance was due to the illness. I’m sitting here today, I feel 1,000 percent. I wouldn’t get in the Octagon if I didn’t."

Beyond his fight with Hunt, Lesnar isn't sure what his future may hold. In the short-term, he'll compete at UFC 200 and then at WWE's SummerSlam Aug. 21. After that, it's up in the air.

"Who knows? It [UFC 200] may just be a tease," Lesnar said. "I don’t know the answer to that right now. We’ll cross that road when we get there. First and foremost, I’ve got a big event after this event, SummerSlam for the WWE. I’m a busy beaver."

Lesnar has not competed inside the cage since UFC 141 in December 2011, where he was defeated via first-round TKO by Alistair Overeem. During his initial UFC run, Lesnar went 4-3, winning and twice defending the UFC heavyweight title.

Against Hunt, a powerful striker, Lesnar sees one clear path to victory.

"I think I match up very well," Lesnar said. "If Mark Hunt ends up on the ground, the fight’s over. I’ve been working, obviously I need to work on my stand-up game, but I’m excited and enthusiastic about doing so. That’s the difference."

Hunt, meanwhile, has won two straight – both via knockout – his latest a first-round starching of Frank Mir at UFC Fight Night 85 in Brisbane, Australia.

UFC 200 takes place July 9 at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena. The card is headlined by a light heavyweight title unification bout between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier.

Bantamweight champion Miesha Tate also defends her title against Amanda Nunes on the card, while Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar will scrap it out for the interim featherweight championship.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting