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LAS VEGAS – Brock Lesnar, Take 2 will debut on Saturday when he defends the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title against unbeaten Shane Carwin in the main event of UFC 116. The event will take place in front of a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and before a pay-per-view audience that UFC president Dana White expects to swell to more than 1 million.
Lesnar nearly lost his life when he contracted diverticulitis last year, forcing the postponement of a scheduled Nov. 21 title defense against Carwin. He didn't eat solid food for 13 days and lost between 40-50 pounds.
He's largely been jovial in his public appearances, but White isn't taking any chances with him. The surly, snarly guy who does such a swell impersonation of the bad guy he was with World Wrestling Entertainment can return at any moment, which is why White won't schedule public appearances for him like he does so many other fighters.
"He's jovial and I can see he's different," White said sarcastically. "He's Brock, trust me. Not much has changed. All the fighters, no matter who you are, it's mandatory if I need you to go to Best Buy out in somewhere [to make a public appearance] or I need you to travel, you have to go. But I don't send him anywhere. I keep him with as little human interaction as possible. That's a fact."
Lesnar has never been a fan of the media and he's never made a secret of it, but he's been approachable, funny and, occasionally, thoughtful in the few times White dare let him loose.
When he arrived in a gated-off area to do interviews following a public workout Wednesday at the MGM Grand conference center, he found two large posters, one of himself and one of Carwin.
He put his elbow on top of the poster of Carwin, which was supported by a thin metal frame, and it collapsed into a heap.
"Oh no," he said, feigning horror at collapsing the poster. "Look what I did. I barely touched him."
He'll get his chance to touch the real Carwin at about 12:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, when the cage doors are shut and the heavyweight championship fight begins. Lesnar opened as a large favorite, but most of the betting action thus far has been on Carwin. Lesnar is only slightly better than even money.
The odds, though, don't matter much to Lesnar.
"Honestly, who gives a [expletive]?" he said.
Both men weighed in at the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds and looked to be in very good condition. Lesnar's wrestling coach, Marty Morgan, raved about his conditioning and said Lesnar has improved dramatically from his last appearance, a second-round stoppage of Frank Mir 51 weeks ago at UFC 100.
"I'm ready to fight, honestly," Lesnar said. "To come from where I was, where I wasn't eating for two weeks and I thought my career might be over, and to get to this point, I'm just happy to be here and I'm really anxious to fight."
Here are complete weigh-in results (all fights are three rounds except the five-round main event):
Brock Lesnar (265) vs. Shane Carwin (265)
Chris Leben (186) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (185)
Stephan Bonnar (205) vs. Krzysztof Soszynski (205)
Kurt Pellegrino (155) vs. George Sotiropoulos (156)
Matt Brown (171) vs. Chris Lytle (170)
Brendan Schaub (238) vs. Chris Tuchscherer (255)
Seth Petruzelli (205) vs. Ricardo Romero (206)
Kendall Grove (184) vs. Goran Reljic (186)
Dave Branch (185) vs. Gerald Harris (185)
Forrest Petz (170) vs. Daniel Roberts (169)
Jon Madsen (254) vs. Karlos Vemola (222)