White says Brock will return, but should he?

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
8:01
AM ET
Dundas By Chad Dundas
ESPN.com
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Brock LesnarAP Photo/Tom OlmscheidPoster boy: Whether in the Octagon or in the ring, no one riles an audience like Brock Lesnar.
Amid his obvious excitement on Friday over announcing Cain Velasquez versus Junior dos Santos for the UFC’s debut on network television this fall, Dana White also stoked the fires regarding the return of Brock Lesnar, dismissing outright recent reports that doctors were advising his company’s biggest draw to retire from MMA.

“That’s ridiculous,” the UFC President said during a media conference call. “It’s so far from the truth it’s not even funny. The guy has been working on a farm up in Canada all summer. He’s 100 percent. His surgery went great, he’s 100 percent and he’s getting back into training here in the next couple of weeks.”

That reassurance was necessary after a report from The MMA Corner this week cast a significant pall over all things Lesnar. The story cited anonymous sources close to the former champion’s camp saying medical officials were telling him training and fighting in MMA was causing too much strain on his body, opening the door for either a return to WWE or the out-and-out end of his athletic career altogether. On the contrary, White’s words lend credence to rumors that the UFC is already looking for a fight for the former heavyweight champ, possibly against ousted Strikeforce titlist Alistair Overeem later this year.

That Lesnar’s cage comeback could be imminent is obviously great news for everybody, especially the UFC, as the organization’s Prez reiterated again and again during Friday’s call that “none of our guys are mainstream [yet]” while detailing plans for an upcoming Nov. 12 show on the Fox Network. The possibility of getting his best-known star back on the active roster must be reassuring for White, given the possibilities and pressures that come along with this landmark partnership.

You can’t help but wonder if a hasty return to the cage is really the best thing for Lesnar himself, however, considering that just a bit more than three months ago doctors cut a 12-inch section out of his colon to relieve a second bout with diverticulitis. Just as bad is that the surgery came on the heels of a UFC 121 loss to Velasquez that was so ugly, it further fueled doubts about Lesnar’s future success, assuming he doesn’t make major changes to how he approaches the sport.
[+] EnlargeBrock Lesnar
AP Photo/Jae C. HongBrock Lesnar's last bout -- a title-losing effort against Cain Velasquez -- didn't go over so well.

On one hand, you can’t help but marvel at the things Lesnar has accomplished through four years in MMA. The fact that he dived into the UFC with very little previous in-ring experience, won the heavyweight title and became the sport’s most viable attraction in just a few brief performances is simply extraordinary. At this point however, the guy is 34 years old, has twice been forced to take extended breaks to deal with a rare abdominal disorder and many -- rightly or wrongly -- suspect he might be too one-dimensional to deal with phenoms of the future like Velasquez or dos Santos.

Honestly, if you were among Lesnar’s close cadre of trusted advisors, would you tell him heading back to the UFC is the right move at this stage? As much as it stinks to say, I probably would not.

Considering the recent (and oddly successful) attempts by the WWE to revitalize its own programming this summer and considering that Lesnar’s stock as a bona fide tough guy will never be higher among wrestling fans, it might make more sense for him to see what kind of deal he can get from the Vince McMahon empire right now. That feels doubly true when you look at the sweetheart, light travel schedule the WWE recently gave Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to secure his services for next year’s WrestleMania.

If Lesnar could get similar compensation for one last run in professional wrestling as he’d get to come back and fight the likes of Velasquez, dos Santos and Overeem, the proper course would be clear. On the other hand, the truth about the conflicting reports over his health and exactly what Lesnar thinks while he’s bucking bales while training remain a mystery for now.

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