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Skepticism that a Brock Lesnar UFC return would generate huge PPV business

By Zach Arnold | January 7, 2014

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Watching the WWE’s latest reboot of Brock Lesnar is painful. And Paul Heyman isn’t connecting with the live crowds. It was certainly a different landscape many years ago when Lesnar & Heyman had the fans eating out of their hands.

The WWE audience that bought into Brock Lesnar has disappeared or moved onto something else. The same could very well happen if Lesnar attempts a return to the UFC.

The business environments for both companies is very different today than it was in 2009. WWE is really at a garbage-level low point for matchmaking and not understanding what the fans want. Brock Lesnar is not a guy to jump start a cold product but he is the kind of guy who can blow the roof off the ceiling for a hot product. The UFC is running so many shows now that the novelty has worn off and what you have is an audience that will pop for the big stars but that’s about it. It’s still a hardcore floor of support but the ceiling is limited to pop a number outside of a Ronda Rousey fight.

Which is why I have my doubts that Brock Lesnar could draw close to GSP-level numbers if he returned to the UFC. We know the current Heavyweight division environment. It sucks. Daniel Cormier moving to Light Heavyweight prevents a fight with Cain Velasquez, which serves American Kickboxing Academy just fine but hurts the UFC. Josh Barnett isn’t a player any longer, which is unfortunate. Bigfoot Silva is tarnished by the magic T and had trouble putting away Mark Hunt. Mark Hunt is a tough bastard but he’s not title material. Travis Browne is the guy everyone has their hopes pinned on but Alistair Overeem was clobbering him until Overeem melted down. Junior Dos Santos is still trying to find his marbles after the beatdown from Cain Velasquez in Houston. Velasquez just had surgery and will out for an extended period of time. Fabricio Werdum is out there needing a warm-up fight before facing Travis Browne, but who’s interested in Werdum vs. Lesnar?

So, you can see why the UFC wants Brock Lesnar back in action. Even if he can’t pop a million buys, they’ll settle for 500,000 PPV buys for one of his fights. And I think that’s a 50/50 proposition at best. The one fight that could do it would be a rematch against Cain Velasquez and the odds of Lesnar winning that fight are stacked against him. There’s always the fantasy talk of a Fedor/Lesnar fight but it’s not something that I think would gain a whole lot of traction in the States.

Which brings us to Lesnar’s current status with WWE. Would WWE allow him to fight in the UFC? Perhaps they would in exchange for doing a joint PPV venture with Zuffa or if they got a cut of Lesnar’s PPV buys for whatever future shows he fights on for UFC. The problem is that Lesnar’s rub just isn’t there now for WWE and trying to use momentum from a UFC fight is the kind of logic that Antonio Inoki got blasted for last decade when he’d send Yuji Nagata or Kazuyuki Fujita into MMA fights and then translate what they did in MMA to deem them as pro-wrestling champions or chumps.

I fully understand why Brock Lesnar would be fascinated to return to UFC. I get his motives. I get UFC’s motives. I’m not sure I could see what WWE’s motives would be in approving such a business arrangement. Perhaps they could arrange a deal for Lesnar’s fight to air on the new WWE online network. Vince might go for that.

The fact that UFC isn’t flat out denying the Brock Lesnar rumors is a grave indication of how concerned they are about the lack of depth in their heavyweight division. Given the bankroll from Fox Sports & other television deals the UFC has at their disposal, where are the signings of top prospects who could be major players in the heavyweight division? Having to rely on old PRIDE veterans or pro-wrestlers can only buy UFC so much time.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

6 Responses to “Skepticism that a Brock Lesnar UFC return would generate huge PPV business”

  1. rst says:

    I’m not sure if I would characterize the UFC HW division as lacking depth.
    With Cain, Bigfoot, Hunt, Werdum, Browne, Barnett, Dos, Mir when he feels like it on one of his weird lucky days, Nog when he feels like it, Meathhead, Nelson, Shaub, Miocic, Cormier, etc
    They’ve got all the best, all the pretty good and more decent HW’s then have probably ever been assembled in one place in MMA history.

    But maybe what zuffa does with them makes it seem that way.
    They’re the kind of guys who would throw a decent HW under a bus just to foist a WWE guy or a trt cheat onto a PPV.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    What is the saying? You have to strike while the iron is hot? The Brock Lesnar business has probably cooled down.

  3. Jason says:

    1) I think people realize that Brock Lesner is not a fighter and 2) Do people over the age of 13-15 watch WWE anyway? Those people aren’t going to transfer over to MMA.

  4. Diaz's cashed bowl says:

    Brock needs a fancier outfit. That unflattering black sweat pants sleeveless shirt combo is about as low as you can go.
    Brock needs some more outfits to give the impression he’s doing something with his “real” life other than lounging around in sweats watching tv. Not sure if they have done this but mix it up with some NFL training gear and a tux and some hunting and ranching outfits.
    He also needs an mma sidekick like Ken shamrock Don Frye or Tank Abott to help him out once and a while, and get him into some interesting trouble.

  5. rst says:

    The UFC HW div might not be as deep as the WWE, but if Overeem punched Brock and made him wilt I dont think this is a good div for Brock to try a comeback in.
    Its deeper now than it was when it was just him, Randy, Mir and overeem.

    Maybe one off rival fight might be an option.
    Maybe build up a big hoopla between him and Reem and how he wants revenge or something.
    That would make some money for everyone involved.

    But I dont see much success just in the division proper.

  6. david m says:

    UFC needs to get Chael to stop fucking around at 205. At 185, if he got a win or two, he could fight Weidman for the title and do big numbers via his shit talking prowess and general charisma. Weidman, despite two wins over Silva, doesn’t have the aura of an unbeatable guy because both wins were kind of fluky. It is a shame.

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