Commentary

Lesnar: Forget the rumors, I'm a fighter

Originally Published: January 26, 2011
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

Brock Lesnar never considered a return to the WWE and is 100 percent focused on winning back his UFC heavyweight title.

That's according to the former champ himself, who broke his silence Tuesday regarding rumors that he wanted out of his UFC contract and back into the WWE after suffering a first-round loss to Cain Velasquez in October.

"I would not be here if I didn't enjoy this," said Lesnar, who is currently in Las Vegas to coach in "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series. "I could definitely do something else with my life. I have a lot of other opportunities.

"For the time being, this is who I am and this is who I want to be."

Speculation about Lesnar's future with the UFC ran rampant near the end of 2010 when it was reported on various Internet sites that he hadn't returned to the gym after losing his title and was looking for a way out of his contract with the UFC.

Adding fuel to the fire was video of a postfight stare-down between Lesnar and WWE star Mark William Calaway, better known as "The Undertaker," who was in attendance that night.

Prior to the UFC 125 event on Jan. 1 in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White told a group of reporters that Lesnar was still under contract and would not receive permission to make an appearance in WWE.

At the UFC training facility on Tuesday, Lesnar wouldn't deny he received an offer from his old employer, WWE chairman Vince McMahon, but claimed he never seriously considered it.

"That thing took on a life of its own. I'm a fighter," Lesnar said. "I never pursued it.

"When I go dark, people got to talk about something. I don't have any control over that, nor do I really care. That's the funny thing: I go up and sit in my deer house or fish shack and you guys still talk about me. And I don't have to say a word."

Whether or not Lesnar's words officially kill rumors that he was looking for a multimillion-dollar paycheck from the WWE remains to be seen, but for the time being he certainly is talking and acting like a man who wants his spot back at the top of the UFC heavyweight division.

Lesnar (5-2) has looked extremely vulnerable in his past two fights. Prior to falling to Velasquez in a fight that lasted just more than four minutes, he was knocked down and nearly finished by Shane Carwin at UFC 116 in July. Lesnar was able to recover in that fight, and he won by submission in the second round.

The former NCAA wrestling champion didn't mention his stand-up specifically, but there's little doubt that's exactly the area Lesnar is looking to improve before he meets TUF's opposite coach, Junior Dos Santos (12-1). That fight is expected to take place sometime this summer.

[+] EnlargeLesnar
Josh Hedges/Getty Images Brock Lesnar was pounded by Cain Velasquez at UFC 121, exposing the former champ's raw stand-up and fueling rumors of his return to the WWE.

"For me, this is about helping these kids improve their lives -- but more importantly, it's for me to be able to get down here and train," Lesnar said. "It's an opportunity for me to get my title back sooner rather than later. When I beat Dos Santos, then I get a rematch with Velasquez and I get my belt back."

In a strange twist of irony, Lesnar is fighting the exact same opponent he likely would have faced had he defended his belt against Velasquez.

Dos Santos had already secured the No. 1 contender spot, but his title hopes were put on hold when it was announced Velasquez needed surgery on a torn rotator cuff that would possibly keep him out through September.

According to Dos Santos' manager, Ed Soares, appearing on "Ultimate Fighter" and fighting Lesnar was "the next best thing" for his fighter, behind competing for the belt. Dos Santos is arguably the best striker in the division and has to like his chances considering what has happened to Lesnar in his past two fights.

"I think he doesn't accept punches very good," Dos Santos said. "I don't know why, maybe because he's a wrestler. I am from boxing so I have no problem with punches. Guys can punch me and I feel nothing. That doesn't happen with him.

"He's got a weak chin."

Although many believe that Lesnar's appearance on the show is due only to White's insistence, the fighter said he is "grateful" for the opportunity and excited at the prospect of being only one fight away from the title.

And though the speculation is that he probably won't be in any kind of mood to take it seriously, at least one cast member on the show thinks otherwise after spending a day with him.

"One thing I can tell you is, when the cameras aren't on, he's one of those guys that if your car was broken down, he's a guy who would pull over and help you," said one welterweight who will compete on the show. "What he's accomplished in two years is amazing. I don't think you can count him out."

Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.