By Graham "GSM" Matthews
There have been a lot of rumblings lately, especially in recent weeks, about a potential return to UFC for Brock Lesnar. Interestingly enough, it was three years ago this week that Lesnar “retired” from the octagon. In doing MMA for the last five years, I became a fan of UFC (not a hardcore fan, just a casual fan). I was exposed to Lesnar over the summer of 2009 and watched a few of his fights in 2010 and 2011. He was returning from another one of his diseases on the night of December 30, 2011 to face Alistair Overeem. The fight lasted all of one round. It was embarrassing.
For a guy who was one of the biggest draws in the history of UFC, Lesnar's MMA career ended with a whimper. At the end of the day, I couldn't blame him. The various diseases he suffered from took their toll on him, so it was smart to retire when he did to avoid further embarrassment and, more importantly, further damage to his health. But when Lesnar announced his retirement from UFC, it wasn't bittersweet for him. In fact, it was actually kind of exciting. He was a badass in UFC, sure, but there was only one place I wanted him to be, and that was in WWE.
Having started watching wrestling in 2008, I never got the chance to see Lesnar live (in the time I've watched, not counting stuff on YouTube). I knew it was only a matter of time before he returned to the company. It wasn't a matter of if but when. Finally, over #WrestleMania 28 weekend, news leaked online that Lesnar was spotted in Miami (the host city of WM28) and was reportedly returning to the company after signing a one year deal. I couldn't have been more excited.
He made his return to WWE that Monday night on #Raw at the end of the show, laying waste to John Cena. The reaction he received that night in Miami was thunderous. It gave me chills at the time and it still gives me chills thinking back on it now. It's my second favorite return of all-time next to The Rock's in 2011. I was pumped to see him in WWE, and even though he lost, I loved his match with Cena at Extreme Rules later in the month. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before.
The last three years with Lesnar around, in my opinion, have been great. I've enjoyed it all. From his amazing match with CM Punk to annihilating John Cena, I've very much been in favor of keeping Lesnar around, even if it's a few times a year. And as many people have said before, I'm happier with keeping it that way. The less he's around, the more of an attraction he is. Granted, I don't agree with him being off TV for three months while champion (would it have killed WWE to have him work one pay-per-view match?), but I put the blame more on WWE than I do Lesnar.
That's neither here nor there. His WWE contract is rumored to be coming to an end around WrestleMania time in the spring. There have been rumors of him returning to UFC from the moment he left. I never believed any of them. None of them seemed valid, but it's now more likely than ever. If you asked me a year or two ago of what I thought of Lesnar returning to UFC, I would have been completely against it. He's working far less in WWE for presumably more money, though I don't know if that's the case anymore.
Still, my mindset has since changed. In reading his autobiography three years ago, I came to realize he actually has a passion for MMA. He must like wrestling, sure, but he's made no bones about the fact he's in WWE to make money and doesn't have a passion for it. I have no problem with that as long as he's honest. It seems as if with MMA, he had more of a passion for it AND he was making big money. Of course, the countless diseases shortened his career significantly, but he appears to be 100% healthy now, so a return isn't completely out of the question.
At the age he's at, the only real time he can make a return to UFC is now. If he re-signs with WWE in the spring, the chances of him ever fighting again are quite slim. For me, that's fine. He won the title there and had some kickass fights, but if he wants to fight again, I'm content with that. Will I miss his awesome pairing with Paul Heyman and the sense of realism he brings to the product? Of course. But it'll also be cool to see him have one last run in UFC (along with CM Punk which should also be interesting). That's why it's bittersweet for me.
I'll miss him inside the squared circle, but I'm also excited to see a few more fights from him, especially now that I'm much more into his work and aware of it than I was the last time I watched one of his fights several years ago. Either way, spring 2015 is going to be a very interesting time to be a fan of The Beast Incarnate.