Brock Lesnar is back in the UFC fold, as of earlier this month. Daniel Cormier, after winning the UFC heavyweight title, called out Lesnar, who was sitting cageside at UFC 226 in Las Vegas. Lesnar entered the Octagon and a scuffle ensued.
Afterward, UFC president Dana White confirmed that Cormier vs. Lesnar was the fight the promotion was looking to book. Lesnar re-entered the USADA drug-testing pool on July 3, a requirement to finish out his 2016 suspension, and will be eligible to fight in the UFC again Jan. 8, 2019.
The situation has major implications for the UFC, Cormier, and Lesnar, all of whom are in line to make a whole lot of money on that heavyweight title fight. Lesnar’s return could also have an affect on Mark Hunt, who is currently suing the UFC, Lesnar, and White.
Christina Denning, the attorney for Hunt, told MMA Fighting that she is considering amending her complaint in the lawsuit in the wake of Lesnar’s return. Hunt has alleged that the UFC, White, and Lesnar have committed racketeering, fraud, battery, and civil conspiracy, among other things, with regards to Lesnar’s failed drug test in relation to Lesnar’s fight with Hunt at UFC 200 in 2016.
With Lesnar now back on the UFC roster and about to earn a title shot, Denning believes it could bolster Hunt’s case.
“We debated whether or not to, while the motion to dismiss is pending, to alter the complaint again, to keep adding more facts regarding the way that the organization works and perhaps the unfairness of it,” Denning said. “So, that’s something that we have not done yet, but we definitely [might] with all the buzz around [Lesnar] coming back.”
Lesnar fought Hunt at UFC 200 in July 2016, beating him by unanimous decision. A few weeks later, it was announced by the UFC that Lesnar had tested positive for a banned substance, not only in the in-competition test on fight night, but also in a test 11 days prior to the fight. USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, did not expedite all of Lesnar’s pre-fight tests, so the results did not come back until after the fight.
The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) suspended Lesnar for one year, fined him $250,000 — 10 percent of his guaranteed purse — and overturned the fight into a no contest. USADA suspended Lesnar for one year, a ban that was frozen in December 2016 when Lesnar formally retired and removed himself from the drug-testing pool.
The situation was compounded by the UFC’s decision to waive its policy of returning fighters being required to spend four months in the drug-testing pool before competing for Lesnar. At the time, the UFC said Lesnar only came to terms on a contract one month out of the fight, and since he was coming back from a nearly five-year layoff stemming from before the UFC was affiliated with USADA, that Lesnar should not have to wait out the four months.
“LESNAR, WHITE, and UFC, acted in concert as set forth fully above, to defraud HUNT and commit a battery against HUNT by a scheme to knowingly pit HUNT, a clean fighter, against LESNAR, a doping fighter, to the wrongful benefit of Defendants and to the detriment of HUNT,” reads Denning’s initial amended complaint, which was filed in June 2017.
The lawsuit alleges that the UFC, White, and Lesnar intentionally pushed back Lesnar’s signing for UFC 200 to as late as possible, so Lesnar could avoid USADA until a month or so out of the fight. Lesnar has admitted in interview that he began his negotiations with the UFC months earlier.
“On information and belief, WHITE and UFC were intentionally delaying the announcement because LESNAR was using banned substances and needed additional time in order to circumvent testing procedures,” the complaint reads.
Since the amended complaint was filed, Denning said the judge in the case, which is in U.S. District Court (District of Nevada), has ruled that the claim of breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing will go before a jury sometime in the future. The other charges, including racketeering conspiracy (RICO), fraud, battery and more, are still pending motions to dismiss, Denning said. Hunt’s legal team has filed oppositions and is currently waiting on the judge to make a decision.
“I kind of have a feeling that the judge has heard enough of our arguments and the complaint hasn’t changed a whole lot,” Denning said. “So, there might be just an order that comes out some day soon that tells us what’s in and what’s out.”
There could be more to chew on now that Lesnar has returned in a position of favor, though, Denning said. She said that the situation shows that it “actually pays to take the [banned] substances” if you are a UFC star.