Brock Lesnar has had a paramount impact on both the UFC and the WWE. The NCAA Division I Heavyweight Champion had a college wrestling record of 106-5 when he made his WWE debut on March 18, 2002, brutally attacking former WWE superstars Maven, Spike Dudley, and Al Snow on Raw.
At the time, many viewers didn't know who Brock Lesnar was. But from the crowd's reaction they could tell he was special and unlike any other athlete they had seen before, and that he deserved his nickname, "The Next Big Thing." Lesnar would win the WWE Heavyweight Championship just five months later at SummerSlam, by beating The Rock, which, at the time, made him the youngest WWE Champion at just 25 years old. Lesnar would continue to dominate the roster for the next two years before leaving the WWE to pursue a career with the NFL.Brock Lesnar made the practice team for The Minnesota Vikings in 2004 and attended the training camp despite injuries caused from a motorcycle accident that left Lesnar with a broken jaw, broken left hand, pulled groin, and a bruised pelvis. The injured Lesnar was the last person to be cut from the team. He would then wrestle for New Japan Pro Wrestling from 2005-2007, and in 2007 he started training at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy. Lesnar had his first MMA match for Hero's, a Japanese MMA promotion, that same year when he pummeled Min Soo Kim into submission in the first round.
And then history was made.
On October 20, 2007, at UFC 77, it was announced that Brock Lesnar signed a contract to fight with the UFC. Dana White knew that Brock Lesnar was a special attraction and a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. At 6'3" and hovering around 300 pounds, Brock Lesnar not only has unadulterated strength, but incredible speed for a man his size -- for any size for that matter. Professional wrestlers are no strangers to the UFC, like UFC 5 tournament winner Dan Severn, but Brock Lesnar is no doubt the biggest name that UFC has ever signed. And the numbers prove it.
Brock Lesnar lost his debut UFC match to Frank Mir at UFC 81, but Lesnar dominated the match and many felt Mir was lucky to get the submission hold on Lesnar, causing him to tap out. Later, Brock Lesnar would go on to beat UFC legend Randy Couture at UFC 91, winning the Heavyweight Championship, making him the only athlete to ever hold both the WWE and UFC championship titles. But it was his rematch with Mir at UFC 100 that made history with a record-selling buy-rate of 1.6 million, making it the most watched UFC Pay-Per-View of all time. Lesnar would destroy Mir that night to retain the title and make a whopping $400,000 in doing so.
"I couldn't stand up on my own. That says something right there, doesn't it? Brock Lesnar. The ultimate fighting champion. You know, Baddest Dude on the Planet. And I couldn't even stand up. Couldn't help myself. Couldn't get from the bed to the car to save my own life."Lesnar would eventually recover and return to the octagon, but he still suffered from the toll his illnesses left, and it was apparent that he wasn't healthy. Despite this, Lesnar beat Shane Carwin via submission at UFC 111, to become the undisputed heavyweight champion, while making history once again by tying the record for most consecutive successful heavyweight championship defenses. Lesnar would end up leaving the UFC in 2011, with a record of 5-3-0, after suffering yet a second bout of diverticulitis.
And then history was made, again.
On April 2, 2012, Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE when he confronted John Cena on Raw; the crowd was sent in a frenzy as booming chants of "holy sh**" could be heard throughout the arena. But what made this a historical moment was not just the return of "The Beast," but the nature of the contract he negotiated with the company. As MMAmania reported, Lesnar had signed a one-year contract, requiring only two appearances per month, for a sum of $5 million. This was unprecedented. Most WWE superstars don't see that kind of money and the ones that do, like John Cena, has a schedule that goes beyond full time.
In addition to the money, Brock Lesnar also negotiated that he would be allowed to have sponsors and don their logos on the MMA trunks he still wore in the ring, an opportunity that the WWE hasn't allowed any other wrestler. Lesnar's negotiating prowess reveals yet another one of his talents: being a shrewd businessman. Lesnar would later renegotiate the contract -- although concrete details are hard to nail down -- and extend the contract to a few more years with an increase in pay.
Lesnar says that he is the one who reached out to the UFC President Dana White and requested to fight again. In an interview with his manager, Paul Heyman, Lesnar explained why he wanted to return.The return of Brock Lesnar to the octagon leaves many speculating that historical numbers will once again happen at a UFC Pay-Per-View. The official main event for the card is a rematch between Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier and challenger Jon Jones, but many will be purchasing the event just to see the return of "The Beast." Regardless of whether Brock Lesnar wins in July and in August, one thing is for sure—his paramount impact on both the WWE and UFC will be historic.
[Photo via WWE]