Brock Lesnar says he isn't done fighting. | Photo: Sherdog.com
Brock Lesnar had been noticing symptoms for three months, even while filming the 13th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” He knew exactly what the problem was and how serious it could be, but hoped nonetheless that it wouldn’t force him to bow out of his scheduled June 11 engagement with rival “TUF” coach Junior dos Santos.
On Wednesday, the former UFC heavyweight champion spent 14 hours at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., undergoing what UFC President Dana White classed a “bumper-to-bumper” battery of tests. The news wasn’t good: Lesnar’s diverticulitis -- the intestinal infection which first disrupted his fighting career in November 2009 -- was flaring up again.
“Diverticulitis is an illness that never goes away,” Lesnar said during a Thursday media conference call. “It’s something that I’ve dealt with since my first occurrence and have been battling with it. It’s something that’s in your colon for the rest of your life.
“What it does is, it drains my entire body down. Basically, you’ve got an infection in your stomach and all my resources went toward fighting this problem instead of rebuilding what I tore down in the gym.”
Lesnar had two decisions to address. One was fairly clear-cut, if not easy to make: pulling out of his fight.
“The first thing that came to mind was, from today until June 11, I can’t be well-enough prepared to step in the Octagon and face Junior dos Santos,” Lesnar explained. “It wouldn’t be fair to myself or my family, or to the people I have to get in the Octagon and perform in front of, because I wouldn’t have been 100-percent on June 11 ... It was a hard decision. I’m choked up about it. There’s nothing I can do.”
“It’s not as serious as last time,” said Lesnar, whose first brush with diverticulitis left him hospitalized and reportedly near-death. “It just didn’t allow me to train the way I needed to train for a No. 1 contender’s bout ... I only have three weeks to turn this thing around. We just didn’t feel like I could do that.”
The second decision is one Lesnar is weighing more heavily.
“I am forced with the decision to either have surgery, or to deal with this for the rest of my life,” said Lesnar, who was uncharacteristically emotive at times during Wednesday’s call. “Obviously, I’m fighting a different fight here, other than having to give up the fight on June 11.”
Doctors originally urged Lesnar to have surgery, which could mend the problem by removing a section of his colon, in 2009. At the time, Lesnar resisted, instead relying on antibiotics and a strict diet to fight the infection. Now, the 33-year-old finds himself faced with the same choice in a different situation.
“Now I’m at another fork in the road to where ... now, what do I do?” said Lesnar. “I gotta follow-up with my doctors and weigh the risks and rewards. I went down there yesterday to figure out the problem. We’re waiting on a number of different tests to come back.”
In the meantime, Lesnar will be replaced by the man he beat in his July 2010 return, Shane Carwin. Watching Carwin fight Dos Santos at UFC 131 will no doubt be a frustrating experience for the sidelined and hyper-competitive heavyweight, but Lesnar hopes people will understand that there are greater things at stake.
“I wanted more than anything to fight Junior dos Santos and to win that fight and to get a shot at Cain Velasquez. I wanted nothing more than that. But now, more importantly, my health and my family are more important. So, we keep things in perspective,” said Lesnar.
Regardless of whether he goes under the knife in the near future, Lesnar vowed that he will return to the Octagon.
“It’s a matter of removing some of my colon and reattaching it, and I can’t foresee that being a career-threatening ordeal. At least, I hope not,” Lesnar said. “I’ll tell you one thing: I’m not retiring. This isn’t the end of my fighting career.
“I believe there’s a solution to every problem. I just gotta find the right solution to fix this problem. This isn’t the end of Brock Lesnar. This is a speed bump in the road. I’ve hit a lot of speed bumps in my career and this is one of them.”