When it was announced Brock Lesnar would be returning to the world of MMA and to the Octagon on July 9 against Mark Hunt at UFC 200, the mixed martial arts community was baffled. No one saw it coming — well, except Ariel Helwani, and that turned into a big mess, didn’t it?
As far as everyone knew Lesnar was still on the active roster of the WWE, albeit he gets “full-time pay” for part-time work. However, the WWE and the UFC were able to come to an agreement that will allow Lesnar to compete in the Octagon once again, and on arguably the biggest event in the promotion’s history nonetheless.
“The Beast Incarnate” was part of the historic UFC 100 event in July 2009, where he knocked out Frank Mir in a rematch, so it seems fitting he should be part of UFC 200 as well — especially considering the UFC’s current biggest stars, Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, recently suffered their first losses inside the Octagon.
Is Lesnar adequately prepared to face a heavy-handed powerhouse like Mark Hunt? Probably not. Hunt packs one of the hardest punches in the history of the heavyweight division and if he connects solid on Lesnar’s jaw it’s nighty night for the 38-year-old former UFC heavyweight champion.
We also know that in the fight game any damned thing can happen. With Lesnar we’re talking about a former NCAA Division I Heavyweight Wrestling Champion who won the UFC heavyweight title in just his FOURTH PROFESSIONAL MMA FIGHT! Yes, that was eight years ago now, but let’s not forget the health struggles Lesnar had apparently been suffering with diverticulitis, unbeknownst to him, for several years.
Lesnar is a freak of an athlete who is as strong as an ox, literally, and has remained in peak physical condition since his time in the UFC and being cured of diverticulitis. He hasn’t been in full MMA training mode this whole time, but those muscle memories are there and it’s not going to be that difficult for him to get back into fight mode even though he obviously hasn’t been able to make the same type of gains he would have if he had never stopped competing in MMA. At heart, he’s a wrestler, and if there’s one style matchup that could cause Hunt some trouble, it’s a behemoth wrestler like Brock.
Hunt faced a big wrestler in the past in Chris Tuchscherer back in Feb. 2011. Tuchscherer was part of Team DeathClutch and actually a training partner of Lesnar. Hunt knocked Tuchscherer out in the second round at UFC 127 and the guy never fought another MMA fight. Now Lesnar is a better athlete than Tuchscherer, and was also a better wrestler, but will he be able to stifle the striking of “The Super Samoan”? And it’s not like Lesnar can’t throw a punch… remember when he sent Heath Herring for a flip?
Lesnar will need to set up his takedowns with his striking and then look for the ground-and-pound or possibly even a submission. Hunt does have six submission losses on his record, with all coming via some form of armlock. And Lesnar does hold an arm triangle submission win over former UFC heavyweight giant Shane Carwin.
Current UFC betting odds have Lesnar just a slight underdog at +140, and have Hunt the favorite at -160. Bet $100 on Lesnar, and if he wins, you earn $140, while you’d have to put $160 on Hunt to bring home $100.
Hunt is coming off back-to-back knockout victories over Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Frank Mir, while Lesnar lost his last two MMA fights via knockout to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem. Of course Lesnar hasn’t been in the UFC cage since Dec. 2011 so his record doesn’t tell the full story. But considering he is now diverticulitis-free, and hasn’t suffered ongoing physical trauma that comes from a life of fighting, could the WWE superstar really plant his stake in the UFC heavyweight division once again with a big win over Mark Hunt?
But crazier things have happened in this sport.