Brock Lesnar says he'd 'probably still be banging heads' in UFC if not for diverticulitis

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Ryan McKinnell
·Ryan McKinnell
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Despite only competing in mixed martial arts for a few short years, Brock Lesnar made quite the impact.

Lesnar became UFC heavyweight champ in his fourth professional fight when he knocked out Randy Couture at UFC 91 in 2008. By 2011, he was retired.

With just eight fights in his entire pro career, Lesnar rose to the top of the sport and became a must-see pay-per-view attraction every time he stepped inside the Octagon. His emergence was quick, forceful, and everlasting.

Brock Lesnar (Getty)
Brock Lesnar (Getty)

And his departure was just as swift.

Yes, there were the back-to-back soul-crushing defeats at the hands of Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem. Those two losses were enough to have any fighter thinking about retirement. But what really pushed “The Beast” into an early retirement was his well-chronicled fight with the digestive disease diverticulitis.

The painful disease caused Lesnar to have close to a foot of his colon removed in the summer of 2011. Lesnar was never the same fighter after the procedure. A few short months later, he would retire from the UFC after his loss to Overeem and rejoin the WWE after receiving a lucrative contract offer.

Lesnar appeared on Monday’s edition of the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin podcast, and chronicled his problems with the disease. And like so many of us, Brock Lesnar often contemplates ‘what if?’

"It was really unfair for me," Lesnar said to Austin. "To this day, I don't know if I'd be a pro wrestler if I hadn't gotten sick. I may not be here. I'd probably still be banging heads."

When asked by Stone Cold if fans ever did, in fact, get to see a completely healthy Brock Lesnar, he assured his friend that for a while he was firing on all cylinders.

"You saw me [at 100 percent] in the fight against Randy but it got worse," he said. "When I'd get halfway through a training camp and I knew something was wrong, I thought, gosh, there's something physically wrong with me so I need to figure it out."

By the time Lesnar had his diverticulitis figured out, his body was spent. There were numerous training camps under his belt, grueling fights, and a couple of nasty surgeries along the way.

So, when Lesnar made the jump to the WWE, it was not exactly a surprise. Upon re-signing with the WWE, Lesnar became a WWE champion and enjoyed much success as one of the company’s top draws.

Then, over a brief period in early 2015, Lesnar, with his WWE contract set to expire, was in negotiations to become a free agent.

Rumors of a UFC return swirled as Lesnar contemplated where he would sign next. Ultimately, he decided on a return to the WWE, and any hopes of a UFC return fell to the wayside.

During those months, however, Lesnar admits that he found a renewed spark.

Brock Lesnar's last UFC fight was a loss to Alistair Overeem on Dec. 30, 2011. (AP)
Brock Lesnar's last UFC fight was a loss to Alistair Overeem on Dec. 30, 2011. (AP)

He was healthy, he was motivated, and at 38, the former champ was feeling the competitive ‘itch’ once again.

"It wasn't a bluff," Lesnar said about his thoughts of a UFC return. "I felt robbed by diverticulitis. I felt robbed by being sick. I was feeling good and it took me a couple years to start feeling good. I'm at home, I'm working out, my life is great, everything's in tune, my contract's coming to an end with WWE, hey it's been a great time but something's missing.

"I started a training camp. I wanted to test myself and see where I was, not more physical, but mentally. I wanted to see the mental challenges that it was going to take. If your head's not in the game, the last place you want to get into is in the Octagon."

Given how successful Lesnar was with such little experience, the thought of his return had fans excited. Lesnar even admits that the heavyweight division during his time with the company was ‘a little weak,’ and there may have been unfinished business for him inside the Octagon.

Would Brock Lesnar still be a force in today’s UFC without his health issues?

Probably not.

Not even a Beast can outrun Father Time.

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Ryan McKinnell is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports Cagewriter blog. Have a tip? Email him or