Current WWE Money In The Bank holder and former UFC fighter Brock Lesnar has always put smart business practices atop of his professional hierarchy of priorities.
The past year had seen hints and hype leaning towards a Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Cormier UFC fight in the octagon. The potential UFC bout had long been rumored and desired by fans however, it truly began chugging major steam when Lesnar confronted Cormier after his victory at UFC 226.
After Lesnar cleared his suspension from a past USADA incident, Lesnar vs. Cormier appeared to soon become a reality. That was until a surprise announcement by UFC president Dana White stated Lesnar would remain retired from UFC.
Happening simultaneously was UFC transitioning its pay-per-view structure over to ESPN. It was then argued that Lesnar chose to stay retired from UFC because now under ESPN, Lesnar’s financial gain would be far less relative to the original UFC pay-per-view pay system.
Despite UFC’s new financial system, Dana White stated Lesnar’s decision to remain retired was not related to the ESPN move but instead a larger monetary offer from WWE CEO Vince McMahon. Given McMahon’s fascination with mainstream draw talent, it’s not unreasonable to believe McMahon would offer a monumental payday to Lesnar to keep him with WWE.
‘[ESPN is] not why Brock Lesnar didn’t fight,” White said of Lesnar’s decision to stay out of UFC. “Brock Lesnar got a better deal is basically what happened for Brock.”
In addition to the new pay-per-view system, it’s been speculated that the pay-per-view industry had been on the decline as streaming services and other media formats have been on the rise. This supposed decline of an industry was also in question for Lesnar’s reason to remain out of UFC given most of his income would have been accumulated (and was previously made) through pay-per-view buys.
“That’s absolutely false,” White claimed. “And if you really look when we were on pay-per-view, we were on traditional pay-per-view, everybody was talking about how the pay-per-view business was dying. It’s dying and nobody can pull numbers anymore.”
White went on to argue the notion of declining pay-per-views with UFCs annual buys.
“Really?” White questioned. “We were still pulling five to seven million pay-per-view buys a year when we were on the dying, traditional pay-per-view. You can’t listen to any of this noise.”
Lesnar lost his Universal Championship to Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 35 in April. After a short month off, Lesnar surprised the WWE Universe, and to an extent the UFC fanbase, by returning to WWE programming at Money In The Bank where he retrieved the Money In The Bank contract briefcase.
Lesnar has since been teasing cash-ins to Universal Champion Seth Rollins and WWE Champion Kofi Kingston.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit ESPN with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.