World Wrestling Entertainment’s announcement of Brock Lesnar signing a new contract doesn’t mean that he won’t be fighting in the UFC in 2018.
Lesnar is one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in UFC history, and doubles as one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling with WWE. Being that valuable to both organizations has its perks, as shown by Lesnar’s negotiating strong three-year pro wrestling deals in both 2012 and 2015.
Like in 2015, where Lesnar teased going to UFC and was negotiating seriously with them until one week before WrestleMania, when it was announced he was staying with WWE, the same game was played this year, only stronger.
Since the start of the year, the word in wrestling was that Lesnar would leave after WrestleMania, where he would lose his Universal title to Roman Reigns, and then return to the UFC. Dana White over this past week on several occasions talked about Lesnar returning, and outright said his idea was to give him a heavyweight title shot at the winner of the Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier fight on July 7 in Las Vegas.
The length of Lesnar’s new deal was not announced, although sources close to the situation described it as a short-term deal. The deal, according to sources, does allow him to do at least one UFC fight. It is unclear if the deal allows for multiple UFC fights.
It then becomes a risk for the UFC to put Lesnar in a championship match if his existing contract would not allow him to defend the title. While he would not be favored against either Miocic or Cormier, stranger things have happened. A Lesnar win could put the UFC in a unique position that their champion was under contract to another organization and they may have to negotiate through WWE owner Vince McMahon to get a title defense.
A key aspect is that Lesnar, who pulled himself out of the USADA drug testing pool, had still not reentered, meaning he would need six months of clean tests before fighting. One would think he’d want to get the ball rolling if he was planning on fighting again since he turns 41 this summer.
Lesnar and McMahon kept the Wrestlemania 34 result secret from almost everyone, including the top executives and the writing team, all of whom expected Reigns to beat Lesnar in the main event at WrestleMania on Sunday night at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The expectation was that Lesnar would then leave for UFC. Instead, he won the match and retained his Universal title, leading to his signing being announced Monday.