MMA/WWE News: Dana White explains why Brock Lesnar really walked away from UFC
What’s the story?
Lesnar allegedly walked away from an offer to face Daniel Cormier for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, choosing to focus on his WWE commitments instead.
In case you didn’t know...
The UFC recently restructured their Pay-Per-View and TV distribution model. When the companies deal with Fox Sports ended, they signed over all broadcasting right to the ESPN Network.
As part of the agreement between ESPN and the UFC, all PPV events will now be exclusive to the online subscription platform ESPN+. This has resulted in lower income from PPC sales, and therefore less revenue for the fighters competing in these events.
Many have speculated that this is what caused Lesnar to walk away from his potential super-fight with Cormier.
The heart of the matter
In a recent interview with ESPN, Dana White took the opportunity to hit back at the speculation and clarify exactly why Lesnar walked away.
“Completely not true, that’s absolutely false, and if you really look at when we were on pay-per-view, everybody was talking about how the pay-per-view business is dying. Nobody could pull numbers anymore. Really? We were still pulling five to seven million pay-per-view buys a year. You can’t listen to any of this noise. That’s not why Brock Lesnar didn’t fight. Brock Lesnar got a better deal [at WWE] is basically what happened…All these guys are going to make their money. Believe me, we’re much smarter than that.“
Brock Lesnar has technically ‘retired’ from MMA twice before and subsequently returned to the company in some capacity. His age combined with his contract with WWE means it is now safe to assume that he will not be returning to the UFC this time.
As it stands, the UFC are showing no real signs of struggling to come to terms with their top stars since the PPV restructure came into play. Top players such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier have all been booked to fight in recent weeks while negotiations with Conor McGregor are reportedly ongoing.
Despite Dana White’s protests, only time will truly tell the ramifications that the deal with ESPN has on the future of the UFC and its fighters.