A rematch of a bout nine years ago this month, when Velasquez defeated Lesnar for the UFC championship in Anaheim, Calif., will happen next in a World Wrestling Entertainment ring.
Velasquez has signed with WWE, and it was set up Friday night on FOX’s debut of WWE Smackdown.
Lesnar first defeated WWE champion Kofi Kingston with an F-5 in just seven seconds, a surprise since several minutes were left in the show. At that point, the masked Rey Mysterio, who Lesnar had destroyed on Raw this past Monday in Phoenix, Ariz., came out with his arm in a sling, and had Velasquez with him. It was known WWE was trying to put Lesnar vs. Velasquez together, with the angle to be shot at the first FOX show. Velasquez had a deal with AAA for an Oct. 13 match in Los Angeles at the Forum, but that show was just canceled due to low ticket sales. There were also snags in negotiations during the week. Velasquez’s camp also spoke to the rival All Elite Wrestling camp, and noted that WWE had made a large money offer and tried to get it matched.
It was played up that when Lesnar and on-screen manager Paul Heyman saw Velasquez, they reacted like they had seen a ghost, while the announcers pushed that Velasquez had beaten Lesnar via first-round knockout to win the UFC championship. Heyman, one of the key members of creative, was likely the person in the company with the idea to recreate their UFC fight in a pro wrestling ring.
Recreating real fights in pro wrestling has happened on several occasions in Japan, such as with Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama, who reprised their legendary Pride fight both in a Japanese movie and in pro wrestling, and Oct. 14, Japanese MMA pioneer Minoru Suzuki and pro wrestling legend Jushin “Thunder” Liger, who fought in Pancrase in 2002, will rematch on a New Japan Pro Wrestling show at Tokyo Sumo Hall.
Velasquez went to the ring, tackled Lesnar, got in some ground-and-pound when Lesnar scampered away and the storyline was that this was the first time Lesnar had run from a fight.
Lesnar vs. Velasquez will take place at WWE’s huge money show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Oct. 31. The Saudi Arabian government pays WWE in excess of $40 million apiece to put on two shows every year, making it the most lucrative events the company runs even though interest in the U.S. in these shows is minimal.
Velasquez was the second combat sports athlete to do an angle on the debut show, as heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury hopped the barricade to get at Braun Strowman, a former world’s strongest man contest competitor who is one of WWE’s biggest stars.
The show also featured an appearance from former WWE star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.