While World Wrestling Entertainment may have granted Brock Lesnar what it believes is a one-off opportunity to compete at UFC 200, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the sports entertainment organization is necessarily 100 percent behind the venture.
At least that’s how WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon made it sound in a recent interview with Business Insider when asked why the company hasn’t taken the opportunity to promote Lesnar’s UFC appearance during WWE broadcasts.
“In Brock Lesnar's case it was really a special case that we are allowing him to do this fight. But like you said it's not really a cross-promotional opportunity, but we are allowing him to participate in that fight,” McMahon said.
"We are not supporting the fight necessarily but, again, it's not a competitor to us and the more that our superstars, that's how we refer to our talent, the more they do outside of WWE, the more awareness it generates and the broader the audience can be that is then brought back into our properties,” she continued. “So we recognize the value of that.”
Lesnar, who admittedly doesn’t spend much time on social media, had a rather succinct response when informed of McMahon’s comment that WWE is “not supporting the fight necessarily.”
“I don’t know. I don’t care what she says,” Lesnar said with a laugh during a conference call on Thursday.
That philosophy pretty much applies to Lesnar’s entire WWE fan base, as well. The former heavyweight champion’s matchup with Mark Hunt at UFC 200 will be his first Octagon appearance since December 2011, but the 38-year-old is not concerned with how a potentially poor performance could affect his status in professional wrestling.
“I really don’t give a s--t,” he said.
However, McMahon acknowledged that while a loss to Hunt could hurt Lesnar’s perception among MMA fans, a defeat doesn’t really hinder one’s starpower in the choreographed world of pro wrestling.
“UFC, they can make a big star but the second that person loses, they lose credibility, and how do you continue to make that star rise? So I think we have the best of both worlds and the opportunity to tell the stories in the way we want to tell them,” she said.
It’s no secret that Lesnar’s first UFC stint was cut short by diverticulitis, an intestinal disease that nearly took the fighter’s life. If WWE fans can’t understand the need for Lesnar to whet his competitive appetite, well, he really doesn’t know what to tell them.
“This isn’t about my fans...this is about me living my life, being the person that I want to be. Granted, without the fans none of us wouldn’t be able to do this. I get that,” he said. “I don’t sit up at night wondering if my drawing power is going to be hurt, or if my WWE fans are gonna tune in and watch me do this. I don’t give two s--ts about that. This is about me. I want to get in there and be an athlete again. That’s what this is about.”
Lesnar wasn’t ready to commit to another Octagon appearance if things go well against Hunt , but he also didn’t seem to feel that the one-off deal was set in stone, either.
“I don’t know. I feel really good. Training camp is going great. I’m happy with my life. I’m happy with everything. Since I left the Octagon after I got beat by [Alistair] Overeem I was kind of forced out of the cage because of my ailments. It haunted me for a long time. Before it’s too late, I want to get back in the cage and have some fun with it.
“It’s all about having fun. I’m not looking past this fight. I’m taking it one day at a time, one training session at a time. I’m grateful that Mark Hunt took the fight. It was short notice for me and him, so we’ll see what happens [on July 9].”
And even if WWE isn’t completely behind him, that is not nearly as important to Lesnar as the support he already has.
“I really haven’t had any contact with anybody from the WWE but my family. The only people I really care about are the people that are close to me,” he said. “Everybody is supporting this. Everybody is 100 percent behind it. They see that I’m committed to it and I’m happy. And that’s all that matters.”