As noted, UFC President Dana White revealed this week that Brock Lesnar recently informed him that he will be retiring from MMA.
There’s a lot of speculation on Lesnar’s UFC future and if he really is retired from the Octagon. It’s important to note that this is White saying Lesnar has retired, not the man himself or anyone close to him. Dave Meltzer noted on Wrestling Observer Radio that Lesnar had been negotiating with UFC for the summer 2019 fight with UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier, and a deal could not be reached.
Lesnar reportedly wanted a flat fee from UFC for the Cormier fight, instead of a percentage of pay-per-view buys, but UFC felt like he was asking for too much. Meltzer noted that UFC is no longer under pressure to draw strong pay-per-view buys because they are getting about the same money through their deal with ESPN. We don’t know how much Lesnar asked for, but it was a certain price that was worth it to him to go through a grueling training camp at age 42, for a fight against a top athlete and fighter in Cormier.
It was revealed this week by TMZ Sports that Lesnar was still submitting to USADA drug testing as recent as April. We don’t know how long Lesnar has been considering the retirement, but the timing is interesting. Meltzer noted that Lesnar had to enter into the USADA testing program to negotiate with WWE and UFC, because if he didn’t, then WWE would know that he couldn’t fight for another 6 months, and wasn’t really serious about possibly returning to UFC over WWE. UFC has always been Lesnar’s leverage in WWE contract talks. There’s no word yet on if Lesnar has pulled out of the USADA testing but if he has, he could come back and would have to wait another 6 months before being eligible for a fight. If he does pull out, that’s a good sign that he has really decided not to fight. Meltzer noted that if he doesn’t pull out, this all could be a public negotiation by White in an attempt to get Lesnar to lower his price.
White noted that Cormier will likely face Stipe Miocic next, at the August 17 pay-per-view from Anaheim, California. This could have been the date they wanted to do Lesnar vs. Cormier on.
There’s no word yet on what the MMA retirement will mean for Lesnar’s WWE future. He has been announced for WWE’s return to Saudi Arabia on Friday, June 7, but his opponent has not been announced. The Observer notes that he will likely face WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins in a rematch from WrestleMania 35. The Lesnar vs. Rollins rematch was expected but that was before WWE Hall of Famer Bill Goldberg was also announced for the Saudi show, leading to speculation on a Lesnar vs. Goldberg rematch.