On July 19, a little over a month away, the WWE will once again initiate a brand extension that will feature two unique rosters. If history is any indication, RAW and Smackdown will first battle for legitimate ratings supremacy. But then brand supremacy could be on the line if the WWE decides to put the two shows up against each other in a huge storyline. But before that has a chance to go down, WWE could find itself in a major battle (kayfabe) with the UFC, and the showdown could happen at this year’s SummerSlam.
Ever since Brock Lesnar shocked the sports entertainment and MMA worlds by announcing his return to the octagon for July 9th’s UFC 200, the internet has been buzzing about what the WWE will receive in return. Lesnar is under contract with Vince McMahon and the WWE, so Brock needed Vince’s approval to fight for Dana White once again. The WWE has maintained that this is a one-off event, after which Lesnar will then turn his attentions back to the squared circle where he is booked for SummerSlam in August.
During Lesnar’s appearance on Monday’s SportsCenter, he told Hannah Storm that people had to be “narrow-minded” if they thought WWE might be getting something out of them lending their big attraction to the UFC, but he also admitted that each side was doing what was best from a business perspective. So you’d have to be naive to think that the WWE won’t be cashing in one way or another. There’s been a ton of speculation surrounding whether Dana White now owes Vince a favor, or if this is WWE’s way of thanking the UFC for lending Ronda Rousey out for WrestleMania 31.
We know that Brock Lesnar will now compete at UFC 200 and SummerSlam in successive months, barring he isn’t seriously injured in his return to the octagon. But according to PWInsider (via Daily Wrestling News), SummerSlam may have even more of a UFC-feel to it come August. It appears that there have been talks surrounding a huge segment to go down at SummerSlam involving the WWE Women’s Division and some female fighters from UFC.
After the WrestleMania segment featuring Rousey, The Rock, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon went over so well, there were discussions that the spot was booked in order to set up a major match in the future, perhaps at the following WrestleMania. Match ideas included Rousey teaming up with The Rock in a mixed tag match against Triple H and Stephanie, or The Great One going one-on-one with The Game with the women in their respective corners. Obviously, neither played out as Rousey was restricted contractually, but interest has remained high on both sides.
Rousey’s 2015 loss to Holly Holm deflated some of the steam that had made her the most famous female athlete of the last two years, but it’s also opened the door for other female MMA fighters to share the spotlight. That includes Paige VanZant, who recently competed on Dancing With The Stars. Her success in the octagon combined with her mainstream appeal makes her a perfect target for WWE. And as it happens, WWE has reached out to VanZant’s camp about the SummerSlam idea. We know that there have been talks between both sides, but beyond that, any plans are still a mystery.
We noted earlier Monday that Brock Lesnar’s negotiations with UFC started in April and weren’t finalized until the middle or end of May. There’s a similar time frame at play here with VanZant (and possibly others) with SummerSlam happening on August 21. We’ll have to wait and see, but other rumors centered around WWE asking UFC to promote SummerSlam during UFC 200. If there’s an agreement for the talent exchange to take shape, promotion from both ends would certainly help both parties.
[Image via WWE]