COMMENTARY | Remember UFC 100?
Brock Lesnar had just defeated Frank Mir to unify the heavyweight title when the new champ said, "I'm going to drink a Coors Light -- that's right a Coors Light because Bud Light don't pay me nothing, hang out with my friends and family, and hell, I may even get on top of my wife tonight."
During his brief but successful UFC tenure, few people were as polarizing as Lesnar. The WWE superstar accumulated a heavyweight championship, a bitter rivalry with Mir, and a host of headlines. But after a devastating bout with diverticulitis and a pair of losses, Lesnar traded the Octagon for the professional wrestling ring.
Now there are rumblings that the 36-year-old former NCAA All-American wrestler might return to the UFC.
Potential opponents were identified.
Apparently, a Lesnar comeback is very attractive.
However, to quote Jeff Goldblum in the 1993 blockbuster, Jurassic Park," Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."
Should the UFC bring back Lesnar (5-3-0, two KO/TKOs)?
Here are three reasons why not.
1. Physical question marks
Lesnar has spent years punishing his body in professional wrestling flying off turnbuckles, building body mass, and taking hard hits.
Then there's his near-death struggle with diverticulitis, which took a heavy toll. Lesnar was out for over a year. When he came back, he suffered a first-round TKO (body kick) to Alistair Overeem. It was his final appearance in the Octagon.
Afterward, Mir told the New York Post, "Honestly, I think the guy got so ill, he just couldn't do it anymore. He had to leave [MMA] or his quality of life wouldn't have been normal. We didn't get to see the Brock I fought. Had he not been ill, things would have been different."
Additionally, there were frequent questions about Lesnar's ability to take a punch in the UFC. To his credit, however, he withstood hard shots from Randy Couture and Shane Carwin before being overwhelmed by Cain Velasquez at UFC 121.
2. Potential for negative press
As demonstrated in the aforementioned post-fight quote, Lesnar isn't afraid to speak his mind. But with that authenticity comes his potential to set off a media firestorm like the one UFC President Dana White was forced to address following UFC 100.
"Brock went so far over the top, I can't even put it into words. WWE -- that's what it is," White said. "We had a talk. We talked like men, and he said he was sorry. He said, 'I'm embarrassed by what I said.' I take his word for it this time."
What if there's a next time?
3. The true need -- young talent
The heavyweight division has been deeper than it is today, but how long would Lesnar last against the current field? Is he sustainable? In recent years, the infusion of younger talent like Velasquez and Junior dos Santos added staying power to its then-aging stable of fighters.
Finding up-and-comers is essential for the longevity of the division. The UFC needs more fighters like Travis Browne and Stipe Miocic rising up the ranks for fans to follow and connect with. Plus, what if a Lesnar return stunts the growth of young talent by taking away high-profile, and potentially career-building, matchups?
In Lesnar's defense…
Love him or hate him, you can't deny his ability to sell Pay-Per-Views. UFC 100, UFC 116, and UFC 91 were the Nos. 1-, 2-, and 5-ranked events in terms of PPV buys in the organization's history, according to MMAPayout.com. Lesnar headlined them all. Also according to MMAPayout.com, the least any of his cards ever totaled was 535,000 buys. That's impressive.
But perhaps not what the UFC needs right now.
There's no doubt that Lesnar would bring a short-term surge of intrigue. And while his combination of size and athleticism is something to behold, it's not likely to be a long-term presence in the heavyweight division.
Rather, the UFC needs to get younger and add new talent -- maybe even just get healthy.
It was said that Couture returned to the UFC in 2007 because the division was weak. That's not necessarily the case now, not with contenders like Fabricio Werdum, dos Santos, Browne, and Miocic -- to name a few -- all vying for a shot at Velasquez.
All would present problems for Lesnar.
Perhaps a Coors Light would be a better option.
Paul Putignano lives in Southern California, where he has covered mixed martial arts and a wide array of sports across the Greater Los Angeles area. His work has been published in a variety of newspapers and online publications.
- Martial Arts
- Sports & Recreation
- Brock Lesnar
- Coors Light