Over the years, there have been a number of WWE wrestlers who have made the decision to step into combat sports. Some have been successful, while others, decidedly not so.
In this series, we will be taking a look at former current or former WWE Wrestlers and their time in Mixed Martial Arts.
In this article, we are about to focus on one of the most controversial athletes of our time — former UFC Heavyweight Champion and current WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar's sudden departure from WWE and arrival in UFC
While WWE Champion Brock Lesnar is currently dominating in WWE, this is not the first time that he has done so. Back, between 2002 and 2004, Lesnar was a constant and highly-rated fixture in the wrestling company.
During his time there, he won almost everything that he tried his hand at and was in the main event in almost every pay-per-view that he was in. His arrival had given WWE that huge larger than life personality that they needed after 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson slowly stepped away from the company.
However, 2004 would see his departure from WWE following an anticlimactic match against Goldberg at WrestleMania. Given that it had become public knowledge that both Superstars were leaving, there was widespread outrage surrounding the match, and the man that was cheered the most, was the guest referee, Stone Cold — especially when he hit his famous Stunner on both Superstars.
Lesnar's decision to leave wrestling was so that he could pursue a career in professional football. However, this did not work out at all. Instead, 3 years after leaving WWE, he found himself competing at Dynamite USA against Min-Soo Kim, who he decimated in 1 minute and 9 seconds of the first round.
With that win, it did not take long for Lesnar to join UFC. He joined on 20th October 2007 and made his debut at UFC 81 in February of 2008.
Much like his last match in WWE, his first fight in UFC would be anticlimactic, as the inexperienced fighter found himself outclassed by Frank Mir, and he ended up having to submit after a kneebar in only 1 minute and 30 seconds. After this, it was expected that it would be quite a while before he would be able to gain back the hype that he had going into this fight. However, that was not the case.
Brock Lesnar's dominance in UFC
Before too long, in August of 2008, Lesnar returned to the Octagon and defeated Heath Herring in a Unanimous Decision win. What came next, was a UFC Heavyweight Championship fight against Randy Couture. What very few people knew at the time, was that this would be the fight that made Lesnar famous in MMA.
He defeated Randy Couture via TKO and won the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Many thought at the time, that the win was a fluke, difficult as that is to think when looking at Lesnar.
'The Beast Incarnate' was not done. He had to make things right, and he did so in his first title defense, where he defeated Frank Mir, putting his first loss in the UFC behind him. He next, went on to defeat Shane Carwin as well, in 2010, before he finally lost to Cain Velasquez.
This was when Lesnar took some time before returning again, to face Alistair Overeem. It was not to be. Overeem was able to defeat him via TKO in the first round, bring Lesnar's first run in the UFC to an end.
Brock Lesnar's return to UFC
Brock Lesnar would return to WWE and this time, he would forge an even more dominant run in the company, beating the best of the best of the company, and even ending the famous streak of the Undertaker. Although he had said after his defeat by Overeem, that he would never fight in the Octagon again, Lesnar did return to UFC in 2016 for a fight against Mark Hunt. Lesnar defeated Hunt via Unanimous Decision and was paid a massive $2.5 Million purse.
Unfortunately, it was revealed that Lesnar had violated the anti-doping policy, something that was found by the USADA. He was suspended and fined, and the fight was overturned. Although after this fight, Lesnar teased returning the Octagon to face Daniel Cormier, that fight never took shape, and Lesnar retired from UFC for the second time.
While Brock Lesnar will never be known as the 'best' UFC fighter of all time, the impact that he created in the short time that he was with the company will likely never be forgotten.