Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar has had a reoccurrence of diverticulitis and has been forced to withdraw from his June 11 fight against Junior dos Santos in Vancouver.
Lesnar, 33, said he is not planning to retire and is considering his treatment options. Lesnar said during a hastily arranged conference call Thursday that he spent 14 hours undergoing tests and meeting with doctors Wednesday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Surgery is an option, but Lesnar said he is still in the middle of accumulating information.
UFC president Dana White said Shane Carwin will replace Lesnar and will face dos Santos in a No. 1 contender's match in the main event of UFC 131. Carwin has been training to fight Jon Olav Einemo.
In 2009, Lesnar had to withdraw from a heavyweight title defense against Shane Carwin at UFC 106, though he was able to return to fight Carwin at UFC 116 on July 3, 2010. Lesnar submitted Carwin in the second round but lost his title to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121 on Oct. 23.
Lesnar was training for the dos Santos fight after appearing with him on Spike TV's reality show "The Ultimate Fighter," but said he hasn't been able to train the way he needs to in order to be ready for June 11.
"I dodged a bullet about two years ago with diverticulitis, at that time not knowing what the problem was," Lesnar said. "I dodged the bullet by not having the surgery. Diverticulitis is an illness that never goes away. It's something I've dealt with since my first occurrence, and I've been battling with it. It's something that's in your colon for the rest of your life, and I've been able to maintain it to a point where it's tolerable.
"I was able to go through two training camps – Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez – and made it through those camps without having a bout or any symptoms."
Diverticulitis is a condition of the colon that occurs when pouches form on the colon and become inflamed. The only way to treat them is with antibiotics, or they can be removed by excising a part of the colon. Lesnar said he's been battling symptoms for the past three months but still hasn't determined whether or not to have surgery.
He apologized to dos Santos, the UFC and Spike for having to pull out, but said he wasn't able to train anywhere near the capacity needed to be ready to compete. However, he insisted that he would find a solution and continue his career.
Lesnar said the illness is not as serious as it was in 2009, when the situation became life-threatening, but said it "drains my entire body down." He said he believed he would be able to find a long-term solution that wouldn't risk his health but would allow him to resume his career.
"I am forced to make a decision to either have surgery or to deal with this the rest of my life," Lesnar said. "I'm fighting a different fight here than having to give up a fight on June 11. A lot of things go through your mind as an athlete, especially myself. This is something that has been wearing on me for about a month now. Different thoughts come to your mind, but it wouldn't be fair to myself, or to my family, or to the people who I have to get into the Octagon with and perform in front of, because I wouldn't have been 100 percent on June 11. I'm not there now and I had to make a decision this week, to allow the UFC enough time.
"I have enough respect for them. My health is No. 1. My family is No. 1. It was a hard decision. I'm choked up about it, and there is nothing I can do. I'll tell you one thing: I'm not retiring. This isn't the end of my fight career."
Lesnar said he wasn't able to get himself to 100 percent after his previous problem with diverticulitis and estimated that he was 85 or 90 percent of himself in his bouts with Carwin and Velasquez.
He said he'd adjusted his diet and felt he was handling the problem, which made the reoccurrence more frustrating.
"What's been so frustrating about this, when this thing came back to bite me in the [behind] here, is that I've been just diligent about [following doctor's orders]," Lesnar said. " This is my life. I take this very seriously. If you ask anyone about me, I'm very professional when it comes to my fight career. I follow things. I haven't gotten to where I am today by not being dedicated. I have been very dedicated with my diet. We've been doing different things, and new things, and things that have probably carried me this far."
Lesnar said a normal person can manage it, but because he's a professional athlete competing at the highest level, he pushes his body harder and asks more of it. He said, "I feel bad to say this, but I've been unsuccessful being able to manage this [while still] being an ultimate fighter."
- Brock Lesnar
- Shane Carwin
- Cain Velasquez
- Junior dos Santos