Brock Lesnar returned to the UFC after a five-year absence and walked out of the octagon with a decisive victory over Mark Hunt on Saturday night. Die hard MMA fans who felt Lesnar had no business waltzing back in to their arena were proven wrong after he methodically took apart the knockout specialist. Whether the win was a shock is up for debate, but Lesnar was the clear-cut underdog going in, so there’s no question it was an upset, just a matter of how big.
UFC 200 was being billed as the company’s biggest event of all time, and we’ll know in due time if it turned out to be just that. Lesnar’s presence certainly helped as the narrative of him appearing at both UFC 100 and 200 added to the allure. Jon Jones’ last-minute removal couldn’t have helped numbers, but we’ll soon see whether it actually hurt. It certainly hurt him, as it’s estimated that he lost $10 million for missing out on his fight with Daniel Cormier as a result of a failed drug test.
Forbes is reporting that that UFC’s Public Relations Director, Dave Sholler, proclaimed that the live gate brought in $10.7 million with an attendance of 18,202. The goal, that with Lesnar back in the fold, and the other matches on the card, is that UFC 200 would surpass the UFC 100 record of $1.6 million pay-per-view buys. There is plenty of debate already whether it has accomplished that, but we won’t have the official numbers for a couple weeks.
Regardless, Brock Lesnar came out of Las Vegas feeling like a million bucks (even if he didn’t quite look it), and making well north of that to boot. According to Daily Wrestling News, Lesnar has already received a guaranteed payday of $2.5 million for the fight, with an additional $5,000 deposited into his bank account from an endorsement deal with Reebok. But the money train doesn’t end there. When those aforementioned pay-per-view buys are announced, Lesnar will receive even more. All told, Brock will make a minimum of $5.5 million and a maximum of $8 million for the three-round fight with Mark Hunt.
Many have speculated about Lesnar’s future in the octagon versus the one in the WWE’s squared circle. No decision has been made at this time regarding his UFC future, but the ball appears to be in Vince McMahon’s court at the moment. You couldn’t blame Lesnar if he wanted to go back to the UFC again, but he is under contract with the WWE, and we’ve already reported that one of Vince’s top priorities is to extend Lesnar past his existing deal.
There is sure to be some measure of a game of tug-of-war between Vince and Dana White in regards to Lesnar as well. Vince allowed Lesnar to compete for White, and we’ll find out whether Dana will reciprocate in this modified talent exchange program. If this turns out to truly be a one-off agreement, as WWE was claiming and advertising, remains to be seen. But the UFC is already capitalizing on Lesnar’s triumph by listing him as the eighth-ranked heavyweight fighter in the division.
Up next for Brock, of course, is a SummerSlam showdown with Randy Orton under the WWE umbrella. The show, emanating from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, is shaping up to arguably be better than the biggest WrestleMania in company history, which could result in Lesnar’s wallet expanding again. He’s already got the most desirable contract in the WWE, and his crossover victory has only enhanced his attraction, but it also may have driven up his price tag in the process.
If Lesnar achieves the maximum payday from UFC 200, he’ll have surpassed his yearly rate with WWE by $2 million for one single fight. Only John Cena makes more money than Brock, strictly in terms of WWE contracts, but their outside endeavors might make them more comparable earners than ever.
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