Brock Lesnar has been away from MMA for five years, and he cannot wait to get back in the octagon with Mark Hunt at UFC 200.
Brock Lesnar is not the least bit concerned that his fight with Mark Hunt at UFC 200 could affect his WWE marketability.
“I really don’t give a s---,” said Lesnar. “I don’t sit up at night and wonder, ‘Is my drawing power going to be hurt?’ or ‘Are my WWE fans going to tune in and watch me to do this?’ I don’t give two s---- about that. This is about me. I want to get in there and be an athlete again, that’s what it’s about.”
Lesnar jokes that Vince McMahon granted him a one-off opportunity to compete at UFC 200 this Saturday in Las Vegas after he defeated McMahon in an arm wrestling contest.
“It actually took two arms to beat Vince McMahon,” said a laughing Lesnar. “I actually needed to use two against his one.”
Lesnar was asked how the upcoming fight impacts his legacy, but he shifted the answer to explain that the fight represents an opportunity for him to return to his roots as an athlete.
“This is about me living my life, being the person I want to be,” said Lesnar. “I really haven’t had any contact with anyone from the WWE. The only people I really care about are the people that are close to me, and they are supporting this. That’s all that matters.”
In an interview with Business Insider, Stephanie McMahon said WWE is “not supporting the fight necessarily,” but Lesnar was not phased by her comment.
“I don’t care what she says,” responded Lesnar.
Questions regarding performance enhancing drugs–particularly steroids–have pursued Lesnar since the moment UFC announced his return. Hunt has commented that Lesnar has “been juicing his whole career.”
“I’ve been dealing with that my entire life,” explained Lesnar. “I’m a white boy and I’m jacked. Deal with it. What do you want me to say? I’m a white boy and I’m jacked.”
Lesnar admitted he was surprised that UFC president Dana White was able to maneuver so quickly and book the fight for UFC 200, as Lesnar originally expected his return to happen in New York this November at UFC 202.
“I wasn’t sure if this was even going to happen,” said Lesnar. “I’ve been training four or five weeks. Before my call to Dana, I wasn’t even sure this thing was going to happen at UFC 200. We thought we could maybe put something together for November in New York. I’ll fight whenever the money is right. We took it to the eleventh hour, and that’s where we’re at.”
Paul Heyman, who serves as Lesnar’s “advocate” on WWE programming, has helped promote the fight and praise Lesnar as a once-in-a-lifetime performer with WWE and UFC. While Lesnar admitted he appreciates the support, he also revealed that his focus is solely on competing.
“Paul Heyman is my agent of fake television,” said Lesnar. “He’s not my agent for the UFC. I haven’t really followed much of anything. I don’t have a Twitter account, I don’t have Facebook. It is what it is, and to me it’s all BS. I’m just trying to enjoy this and make every minute count. Those memories I have in the cage weren’t really fun. I was sick, having surgery, so coming back from that, I was worn out, I was tired. Now I feel rejuvenated, I feel healthy, I feel grateful for the opportunity, and here we are.”
A severe bout of diverticulitis–an intestinal disease that forced nearly a foot of Lesnar’s colon to be removed–greatly affected Lesnar during his UFC career, and he is grateful for the opportunity to fight this time around with a clean bill of health.
“I was forced out of the competition because of an illness,” said Lesnar. “I tried to be the contender I wanted to be, but it’s hard to do when you have a disease. I’m in a whole other spot, mentally and physically, in my life right now. Before I become a 40-year-old man, I want to get back in the cage. I’m fighting a 42-year-old guy. The guys in the heavyweight division, their average age is 35, 36 years old, so it is what it is. I’m a competitor. I’ll be a competitor in a nursing home racing my wheel chair around.”
Asked whether he is considering additional fights, Lesnar explained that those roads will be crossed after his battle with Hunt.
“I don’t know,” said Lesnar. “I feel really good, training camp is going great, I’m happy with my life, I’m happy with everything. Since I left the Octagon after I got beat by [Alistair] Overeem and forced out of the cage because of my illness, it haunted me for a long time.
“Here I am, before it’s too late–I want to get back in the cage and have some fun with it. This is all about having fun. I’m not looking past this fight. I’m just taking it one day at a time, one training session at a time, and looking forward to July 9. I’m thankful that Mark Hunt took the fight. It was short-notice for me and him, so we’ll see what happens on the ninth of July.”
Lesnar, who has been inactive from mixed martial arts since 2011, explained that training methods in pro wrestling and mixed martial arts are an entirely different beast.
“It’s not even the same thing,” said Lesnar. “I really never left training MMA. Any chance I have to grapple or do jiu-jitsu or to hit mitts, I have a true passion for the sport. I love the sport. I did it just to pass time and to stay in shape. But to be in pro wrestling shape vs. fighting shape, it’s not even on the same planet.”
Hunt has fought nine fights in the five years since Lesnar last fought, making the former WWE and UFC heavyweight champion the early underdog for the fight.
“I haven’t given much thought to it at all,” said Lesnar. “I’ve been an athlete since I was five years old. I love this sport. I believe that I was meant to be a fighter.”
Lesnar has been training for the fight in his new hometown of Saskatchewan, which is fitting, considering it is the only Canadian province with entirely man-made borders.
“That’s my primary residence,” said Lesnar. “I’ve set that up to raise my family. I love the United States, but I love Canada and what it has to offer for hunting and fishing. I just happened to find a place that I really loved and my family really loved. That’s what this is all about – if any man is a stand-up guy, he’s a family man. That’s who I am. At the end of the day, this is just a job. This is what we do and how we put food on our family’s table, and we enjoy it. We enjoy hitting people and getting hit, and I feel very fortunate to be able to have this job.”
A major knock on Lesnar throughout his MMA career is that he can be rattled with punches to the face. Hunt’s strength is his striking, and the knockout specialist is known for his heavy fists.
“He’s a heavy hitter,” agreed Lesnar. “I’m preparing to try to answer that and win this fight. Is he better at stand-up than I am? Of course he is. Is he a better wrestler than me? Hell no. And he’d probably tell you this, too, and that’s why we’re fighting. We’re going to see who the best man is in their discipline on the ninth of July.”
Lesnar stopped short of making a prediction, but he did note that he can not wait to enter the cage and re-engage in the spirit, sport and brutality of competition.
“I’m trying to knock the rust off in five weeks,” said Lesnar. “I’m going to show up and be the best guy I can possibly be on the ninth of July. He’s been putting food on the table for the last five years getting in the Octagon, and I’ve been doing it in another way. I’m sure Mark is preparing himself the best that he can, just as I am. We’re in for a really good fight.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.