First thing I notice as I step inside the UFC's VIP area is that Brock Lesnar is surrounded by his past, present and future.
On one side is his past, Paul Heyman, aka Paul E. Dangerously, the wrestling mastermind who once managed Lesnar in WWE and is now sitting by his side inside this swank Manhattan nightclub.
On the other side is Lesnar's present and future in the face of UFC president Dana White. As I sit down next to Lesnar, White works the room like a hurricane, shaking hands with everyone in sight on his way out the door to an interview of his own.
Next thing I notice is the strength and size of Lesnar's hands as he grips mine for a shake. I'm pretty sure he could snap my neck in about five seconds if he wanted (and that might be underestimating the pounce by about 4.7 seconds).
"It's not like I walk around the street thinking whose neck I could snap," he says with a smirk when I tell him about my estimation.
"These hands get put to work a couple of times a year, and there are still plenty of people to hurt."
I'm just glad I'm not one of those people.
Jon Robinson: You were on the cover of a WWE game; you were in "Madden"; and now you're on the cover of "UFC Undisputed 2010." Do you know about the legacy you're leaving in the world of video games and how much of a badass they made your character?
Brock Lesnar: It's a fake world, buddy, I don't keep up with that s---. [Laughs] No, I'm honored to be on the cover of this damn thing ["UFC Undisputed 2010"]. I'm glad to be the front man behind this, but the game is just like real life -- any given day, any given opponent, anything can happen.
I'm not a big video game guy, but I saw how good they made me look in the game, so I wanted to check it out. I grew up on Atari and Intellivision, so this is a long way from "Frogger." Think about the technology today and where it is now compared to the games I grew up playing. It's amazing. Where is it going to be 15 years from now?
Jon Robinson: You had a roller-coaster year, from the highs in the Octagon to the lows of your health scare to now you're picked to represent the UFC on the cover of this game. What have the past few months been like for you personally?
Brock Lesnar: I was speechless when they told me I was going to be on the cover. I wasn't even sure if I was ever going to be able to fight again. I was 240 pounds lying there, and now I'm back to 280 pounds and back in the gym kicking ass. I can't wait to get back into the Octagon.
Jon Robinson: How was the fan support while you were sick?
Brock Lesnar: I've put myself in this category as this confrontational person who creates controversy, but for people to grasp what was happening and to be like, "Holy s---, I might never be able to see this guy fight again!" That saddened them more than anything probably. I'm sure some of them said, "I hope that son of a b---- dies." I don't know. I'm sure there are people out there like that, but that's just the way it is. I'm glad THQ decided to have me, and the UFC has really backed me through this whole thing, so it's been great.
Jon Robinson: When you first made the move from WWE to MMA, how skeptical were the MMA fans of your ability?
Brock Lesnar: They didn't cut me any slack. Not at all. They still didn't believe I was worthy after I beat Randy Couture. I still have to make my name, but that's fine. I don't care. I'm getting paid to do something I love.
I remember driving with Curt Hennig when I first got into the wrestling business, and we had just gotten done working a show in St. Louis. We were driving over to the next town and we got a 12-pack of beer, and I remember him flipping on the light and saying, "Can you believe they pay us to do this s---?" I still can't believe it.
Jon Robinson: So for video game fans who might not watch UFC, why should they play as your character in "UFC Undisputed 2010"?
Brock Lesnar: I think people just want a big guy who kicks ass, and so far I've been able to do that in real life.
Jon Robinson: You had a human video game moment when you punched Heath Herring and sent him tumbling. What goes through your mind when you strike somebody that hard and watch as they roll?
Brock Lesnar: Finish the job. And you know what, that was one tough son of a b---- because he took another 14 minutes of ass whuppin' before I put him into retirement. He hasn't fought since I broke his f---ing head. I was surprised when the fight wasn't over after that first punch, but that is one tough dude.
Jon Robinson: Do you see any of the current UFC heavyweights as a threat to you?
Brock Lesnar: Anybody who gets in there has a puncher's chance of winning and that's the beauty of the sport, but at the same time, that's the sport's own demise. If you have a guy who bleeds a lot of talent, he might never get to the top because the puncher's blood took him out of it. In this game today, you have to be ready and prepared for anything in the Octagon. That's the sport.
Jon Robinson: What do you see as your biggest weakness right now?
Brock Lesnar: My hands. I'm constantly working on my hands, I'm constantly working on my ground game, and constantly trying not to get satisfied with where I'm at with my career and where I'm at as an athlete. I'm somewhat happy, but never satisfied.
Jon Robinson: Your last fight ended almost like a WWE promo where you're flipping people off and running around crazy. You got a lot of people talking, but do you think a scene like that is bad for business?
Brock Lesnar: I didn't preplan any of that stuff. That was just pure emotion. They asked me, "What's next?" Well, that was what was at the top of my mind. I just took the microphone, I had to wait 17 months to beat Frank [Mir], and there was just a lot of emotion. An old promoter once said, "Any press is good press." It definitely got a lot of attention.
Jon Robinson: How would you compare Dana White as a boss to Vince McMahon as a boss?
Brock Lesnar: If I had to say one thing about Vince, it would be ruthless. If I had to say something about Dana, it would be diligent and somewhat brilliant. Two different approaches to business. I had a great run with WWE. WWE gave me great visibility, I met my wife there, and I got paid a lot of money; it was just my time to go. I sensed it. I was smart enough to leave. That's the bottom line.
Jon Robinson: Do you ever see yourself going back to WWE as maybe a celebrity guest host of Raw for one night only?
Brock Lesnar: I wouldn't be opposed to it. I'm still focused on my fighting right now, but if the opportunity arose some day, I'd never say never.
Jon Robinson: As an MMA fan, who were some of your favorite fighters to watch?
Brock Lesnar: Back in the day, I was a Royce Gracie fan and a fan of Tank Abbott. It's always the different-looking guys that you want to root for. Then there were guys like Mark Coleman and Randy Couture, so for me to get in there and fight against guys like that is pretty cool.
Jon Robinson: How long do you see yourself fighting?
Brock Lesnar: I just take it one fight at a time. If I'm able to fight and I'm still healthy enough, I'd like to fight. But I'll know when it's time to stop. There is a young group of guys coming in, and I'm just going to keep defending the title as long as I can.
Jon Robinson: I know you've been training hard since you've been back. What percent are you right now?
Brock Lesnar: I'm 100 percent. I just finished up a six-week minicamp, and I'm at the top of my game. I'm exactly where I want to be.
Jon Robinson: So if I'm playing as you in "UFC Undisputed 2010," what's your go-to move?
Brock Lesnar: The right hand, baby. Set it up.