A report that came out Tuesday gives the impression that former UFC and WWE heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar may be looking for a way out of UFC. If you've read my posts here on SBNation.com or listened to my radio show on 106.7 The Fan in DC, you know I'm a fan of both pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. I hear arguments from fans of both sports against the other. I get that; people like what they like and don't want to be talked out of it.
What I can't abide is closed-mindedness. We've all suffered bouts from it. I think Brent Brookhouse from Bloody Elbow has a stiff case right now. Here are his thoughts on Lesnar's rumored return to the WWE:
The thing that Dana White and the UFC should do is go ahead and let him go back to WWE. There's no real worry of the horrible WWE product being confused with legitimate high level athletics.
No one is going to think that there is some wrestling/MMA crossover if Lesnar goes back to the WWE.
Look, Brookhouse has more knowledge of mixed martial arts in one cuticle then I have in my portly body. I'm an avid reader of Bloody Elbow and am not attacking Brent nor his credibility. That said, the statement above is ludicrous. The first problem is the comical notion that Dana White should just let Lesnar leave his promotion while playing down the impact such a move would have on the UFC. Brock Lesnar is the top draw in White's company. Think about the gravity of any promotion losing its biggest attraction. This isn't the NFL, where the logo on the helmet sells the tickets. Lesnar's numbers are staggering. From MMAPayout.com:
The second problem I have with Brookhouse's statement is the attack on the athleticism involved in pro wrestling. This doesn't affect the situation with Lesnar. As an intelligent adult who can find pleasure in sports entertainment, I take umbrage with that sweeping generalization. Brent, you should watch this, this or this. I personally find "Dancing with the Stars" to be a snooze fest, but I have to acknowledge the talent and skill of the professional dancers involved. Not enjoying something doesn't mean there is no skill involved in said activity.
The final statement from Brookhouse is the most erroneous -- the notion that there is no MMA/Wrestling crossover. I am not sure exactly what was intended with that sentence. Are we to believe that a minimum of 600,000 people buy Brock Lesnar pay-per-views because of his amateur wrestling background? Because of his flameout with the Minnesota Vikings? Athletes from each sport have been draws in the other for quite some time now. From Shamrock, Abbott and Sapp to Brock Lesnar. Lesnar is no freak show, as his numbers prove. There was no drop-off after his first fight. People wanted more and I believe they still do.
The question is, what does Lesnar want?
I'm inclined to agree with Brookhouse: Lesnar may be a front-runner. When times get tough, I'm not sure where his head is. Taking that into consideration, Brock working a one-off deal with WWE for Wrestlemania is very different than a return to professional wrestling. The road is too grueling in the WWE, and Lesnar already has accomplished it all.
What is not being taken into account is the benefit of giving Lesnar the rumored match with The Undertaker at the "Granddaddy of Them All". We have all seen the video, ad nauseam:
The Undertaker is a wonderful ambassador for the sport of MMA. He incorporates jiu-jitsu submissions into his in-ring performance, attends most major UFC fights and professes a great admiration for MMA fighters. Wrestling fans enjoy two men fighting inside a cage and are used to paying $60 to do so. You see where I am going.
For the same reason I love the impact Herschel Walker has on MMA, I relish Lesnar's influence. Get new eyes on MMA; That is the goal. Get the word out to fans of similar sports. If Dana White allows Lesnar his space, including a match at Wrestlemania, does that help or hurt his bottom line? Barring a catastrophic injury to the big man, it will undoubtedly work as a three-month long commercial for Lesnar and UFC.