Brock Lesnar is returning to UFC to fight at next month’s UFC 200 pay-per-view with his opponent set to be announced Monday on ESPN’s SportsCenter. Several of our readers have asked what this means for his WWE future, a question the company addressed in a brief statement on Saturday night:
Brock Lesnar remains under contract to WWE, however, he has been granted a one-off opportunity to compete at UFC 200. Following this milestone event on July 9, Brock will return to WWE for SummerSlam on Sunday, August 21, live on WWE Network.
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The news of Lesnar returning to UFC to fight again doesn’t surprise us. We’ve heard in the past there have been talks about Brock taking a UFC fight and sources have always indicated that WWE, who have the exclusive rights to Lesnar’s services, would be open to letting him fight as long as they had a say in his opponent. I don’t know the terms of this deal but make no mistake about it - WWE was involved from its inception. UFC could not have even negotiated with Brock Lesnar without WWE’s permission. Lesnar's WWE Performer's Contract not only gives the company exclusive rights for him at professional wrestling events but also for mixed martial arts competitions including UFC.
It’s still to be seen what WWE gets from this deal but I wouldn’t be surprised if it means a UFC fighter, possibly Ronda Rousey, takes a WWE match. Triple H really wanted Rousey for Wrestlemania 32 this year but this was complicated by a number of things, especially Rousey’s loss to Holly Holm in late 2015.
UFC was furious over the news leaking out via a report by MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani that Lesnar was finalizing a deal to fight at UFC 200. So much so they kicked Helwani and the MMAFighting.com team out of UFC 199, took away their media credentials and told them they were banned for life.
As for Brock’s WWE contract status, I’m unclear exactly. He’s believed to be locked up through Wrestlemania 34 in 2018 but the final year could be some type of option. I heard just last week WWE was looking to re-sign Lesnar and that his contract was expiring next year. We’ll straighten out the details as we get further into the week.
For now, Brock is returning to UFC at UFC 200 on July 9, 2016 and WWE will use the fight to co-promote SummerSlam. There is no reason for any WWE fan to panic as this does not mean his run in the ring has come to end.
I also want to address questions about CM Punk, a former WWE Superstar currently under UFC contract. Obviously readers are going to want to know if this means Punk could come back and work another match for WWE and while that is a possibility, I wouldn't consider it likely. Punk didn't exactly leave WWE on good terms and seems determined to make his UFC debut as soon as possible. He's dealt with injuries among other things that have delayed his debut and I don't see him back in a WWE ring before he takes his first UFC fight.