After months of uncertainty and nail-biting suspense, Brock Lesnar (4-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) and UFC president Dana White have finally set the record straight on Lesnar’s future in the UFC. The current heavyweight champion has worked out his medical issues, will indeed return to the UFC, and eyes this summer as a potential return date.
While the exact date of Lesnar’s return remains up in the air and open for discussion, it remains quite clear who his potential opponents could be.
Throughout Lesnar’s medical debacle, the UFC had been forced to install a backup plan in the event that the heavyweight champ would be unable to return to the organization. The backup plan includes an interim heavyweight title matchup between former champ Frank Mir (13-4 MMA, 11-4 UFC) and rising phenom Shane Carwin (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) at UFC 111 in New Jersey.
Enter Frank Mir…
Mir initially welcomed Lesnar to the UFC in a non-title affair. The longtime UFC vet and Jiu Jitsu ace submitted Lesnar in the first round and left many doubts as to how the former WWE superstar would stack up against other top contenders.
Lesnar silenced the doubters with a dominating win over UFC heavyweight legend Randy Couture at UFC 91 to become the interim champ.
Towards the end of 2008, Lesnar gained vengeance on Mir, defeating him at UFC 100 this past July by TKO in quite the convincing fashion. The matchup, which pitted two interim title holders, ended with Lesnar becoming the UFC’s undisputed heavyweight champ. This was the last we’ve seen Lesnar in the Octagon.
Enter Shane Carwin…
Carwin quickly turned heads in the UFC with three first round stoppage victories, including one over former heavyweight title contender Gabriel Gonzaga. The three victories proved to be enough to earn Carwin a crack at Lesnar for the heavyweight title.
The title bout between Lesnar and Carwin was originally scheduled for UFC 106 this past November, but then postponed to UFC 108 at the beginning of this month due to Lesnar’s uncertain medical conditions. The bout was scratched all together when it was apparent that Lesnar would not be in any condition to fight.
Sizing up the potential matchups
Given the current players in Lesnar’s foreseeable future, we can see two possible situations coming to fruition: A rubber match goldmine with Mir, or a new test with the comparable size and strength of another former collegiate wrestler in Carwin.
Already a big draw himself, Lesnar’s rematch with Frank Mir at UFC 100 drew the second largest gate in UFC history. Surely a rubber would prove to be a goldmine for the UFC and Lesnar himself.
In a report published by MMAPayout.com, which focuses on the business side of MMA, it was shown that Lesnar topped the list of PPV revenue draws over a two year period. Mir placed in the third position, just below UFC lightweight champ B.J. Penn. Given the rubber match situation and proven track record of both fighters to earn money for the UFC, the term GOLDMINE is stamped all over this bout.
But is the money making potential really what’s best for Brock Lesnar at this point in his young MMA career?
A matchup with Carwin would bring a new challenge to the table for Lesnar. Carwin, a former NCAA Division II wrestler, brings a comparable size and strength that many feel has the ability to seriously challenge Lesnar. Randy Couture was able to bring the wrestling ability to the table, but fell short in the size and strength department. While Carwin’s wrestling experience and strength may not be at the level of Lesnar, it certainly has the potential to cause trouble for the heavyweight champ. Would it come down to wrestling ability and brute strength, or would both resort to slugging it out on the feet?
The final breakdown
From a challenge and development standpoint, it would appear that a Carwin matchup would most benefit Lesnar in the long run. On the contrary, the business and promotion capability of a rubber match with Mir shows dollar signs flowing into the bank accounts of Lesnar and the UFC.
So which potential matchup would most benefit Lesnar? No one can answer that except for Lesnar himself. Does he want further closure on his nemesis Mir, or a new challenge against an opponent who arguably poses more threats than anyone he has ever faced?
Regardless of what happens with the heavyweight title picture, Brock Lesnar has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will always have success and fame within the UFC.