Last December, Brock Lesnar took an Alistair Overeem kick to the kidney, fell to one knee and never got up.
The loss turned out to be his final MMA fight. He announced just moments later that he would retire from the octagon.
This past Monday, we learned the heavyweight's next move — he's going back to his roots.
Lesnar re-debuted with WWE, where he made his name as a world champion professional wrestler, on WWE's Monday Night Raw program. The man that helped UFC kick WWE's rear in the pay-per-view market is now back on the other side.
WWE boss Vince McMahon argues that his company "makes movies," and the competition isn't UFC or other wrestling outfits, it's Hollywood and big-budget television dramas. But Lesnar's return on Monday proves, at least to me, that UFC is viewed as competition by McMahon.
To anyone who has been paying attention, it's like welcoming McMahon to the party 10 years too late. Wrestling pay-per-view buy rates and television ratings have consistently dwindled while UFC has dominated the market. WWE averages around 200,000 buys on their monthly pay-per-views while UFC is consistently around half a million. Lesnar's final fight in December drew 800,000 buys.
WWE isn't just bringing back a former star, they're bringing back Brock Lesnar. They're bringing back the guy who has been kicking their butt.
And at a rumored $5 million for just one year — and he is only required to make two appearances per month — it's ton of cash for Lesnar.
But will it help?
Will MMA fans tune into pro wrestling simply because Brock Lesnar is on the show? That's where I believe the logic is flawed. Lesnar's mega buy rates on pay-per-view weren't the product of additional MMA fans buying the product, it was the addition of Lesnar's pro wrestling fans.
UFC has its core audience of a few hundred thousand people which buys almost every pay-per-view. With Lesnar, those numbers spiked.
WWE is not going to get the same crossover effect that it's hoping for. Lesnar was a star in UFC, but he was the catalyst that MMA fans loved to hate. The pro wrestler stepping into a real fight was an interesting storyline. Going the other way isn't nearly as exciting.
For wrestling fans, Lesnar's return is an exciting twist and the possibilities of where it goes are endless. But from a business standpoint, if WWE is expecting Lesnar's return to impact numbers the way his presence did with the UFC, then they'll be disappointed.
Overeem flunks drug test, title shot gone
After beating Lesnar last December, Alistair Overeem was supposed to earn a shot at the UFC heavyweight title, held by Junior Dos Santos, at UFC 146 in May.
But after failing a pre-fight drug test last week — his 14-to-1 testosterone level more than doubled the Nevada State Athletic commission's allowed level of 6-to-1 — his title shot is likely gone.
He's sent UFC president Dana White off the deep end after losing the main event of his Memorial Day weekend card, traditionally one of the bigger shows on the UFC calendar.
"I am beyond pissed about this," White said during a conference call. "I'm so (expletive) mad right now I can't even begin ... How (expletive) stupid do you have to be? Seriously dumb. Anybody who's using (performance-enhancing drugs) right now is an absolute (expletive) moron. It's beyond — what's the word I'm looking for — it's beyond belief. It's beyond comprehension. You're an absolute moron, a brain-dead absolute (expletive) dummy."
Don't be surprised if Overeem never sees the inside of a UFC cage again. He nearly had his fight with Lesnar nixed after he "missed" a drug screening, but was later able to provide samples to the commission.
E-mail Mike McMahon at email@example.com.