Despite still being under contract with WWE, Brock Lesnar is set to return to the world of mixed martial arts for the first time since 2011 at UFC’s biggest event to date, UFC 200. Could this be leading to a working relationship between UFC and WWE?
UFC 200 is set to be a massive event for both UFC itself and the sports world in general. The event will showcase a rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones for the Undisputed Light Heavyweight Championship. We’ll also see Amanda Nunes take on Miesha Tate in Tate’s first defence of the Women’s Bantamweight Championship as well as the return of former UFC Heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar, to the Octagon.
This was huge news in the world of UFC as Lesnar stated last year that he had retired from MMA. But it wasn’t only the fact that Lesnar went back on his word that made this announcement so shocking — tt’s the fact that Lesnar’s doing this whilst still under contract with WWE, who very rarely do anything like this. In professional wrestling, it’s common for wrestlers to compete for multiple companies at once, as a single company can’t typically provide a liveable solo income. Yet WWE are one of the very few companies who have the money to be able to pay their talent that type of income and as a result, keep them working exclusively for them. Therefore, it’s extremely rare for a WWE-contracted wrestler to compete for another wrestling promotion, never mind a non-wrestling company!
To have this mutual agreement between the two companies is both a shocking and intriguing scenario for both UFC and WWE fans. So it raises the question, could Lesnar’s return lead to a working relationship between UFC and WWE? To answer that, we need to look over a few details:
We first need to remember that Lesnar has a special contract with WWE and is allowed to do a lot of things that no other talents can do. When he first returned to WWE in 2012, he was allowed to promote sponsors from his time in UFC, making him the only WWE performer in history to have sponsors. Just last year near the end of his contract, he walked out of a TV taping for WWE’s flagship show, RAW. Days later, Lesnar made a cameo at a UFC show, presumably as a bartering move to show WWE that he had other options. So what happened a few days later? He got a far better deal, making him one of the highest-paid talents in WWE currently. With this in mind, it’s not hard to believe that Lesnar may have pulled a few strings in his contract to let him be able to compete in UFC, given that he’s worth so much to WWE.
It’s also key to acknowledge that former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey, has made multiple appearances in WWE. She made a small cameo at the SummerSlam PPV in 2014 where she was featured in the crowd, and she even got physically involved in a segment at the 2015 edition of Wrestlemania, fighting alongside The Rock against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. It was rumoured back then that Ronda’s appearances could lead to a working relationship between the two companies and Brock’s UFC return is even more evidence of this. Could we see Ronda Rousey or another UFC-contracted talent perform in a WWE ring anytime soon then?
Finally, we need to also consider the potential positives of such a partnership. With this case specifically, letting Lesnar compete at UFC 200 is actually a very good idea for WWE, as their second-biggest PPV of the year SummerSlam takes place just over a month from UFC 200. As a result of Lesnar’s fight in UFC, WWE could attract UFC fans to their second-biggest show of the year through Lesnar and turn them into long-term WWE fans too. This likewise works in UFC’s favour too, as they can attract a huge number of WWE and pro-wrestling fans to their biggest event ever through Lesnar and turn them into long-term UFC fans. A working relationship in the future between the two companies then could present more opportunities like this, increasing the potential reach for possible long-term fans of the two companies more and more.
So, considering all these factors, could Brock Lesnar’s return lead to a working relationship between UFC and WWE in the future? It’s certainly possible. I certainly don’t think we’ll be seeing any WWE talents in the Octagon any time soon or UFC competitors in the squared circle, but what I do believe is that in a couple of years’ time, it’s very possible that we could be seeing UFC competitors making small cameos at WWE events, just as WWE like to do with celebrities, and vice versa. For now though, it’ll be interesting to see how both UFC and WWE take advantage of this very unique opportunity for both the present and the future of each organisation.