The Weekly Wrap: Jan. 16 - Jan. 22
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.
Brock Lesnar, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s top pay-per-view draw, opened up this week about a health scare that threatened his career in a series of interviews designed to announce his readiness to fight again, perhaps as soon as May.
The UFC used the heavyweight champion’s reemergence to maximum effect, arranging Lesnar’s first interview in months on ESPN Sportscenter Wednesday morning, followed by a media conference call to provide further specifics. The Sportscenter segment termed Lesnar a “mixed martial arts force of nature,” and the live interview, in some ways, served as great promotion for the UFC. Lesnar’s explanation of the most trying period of his career built up to a question from host Josh Elliot that probably sold pay-per-views in and of itself: “He is still the champion, so the title defense will be his. When will we see Brock Lesnar back in the ring doing just that?”
UFC President Dana White said Lesnar will face either the winner of the March 27 interim title fight between Shane Carwin and Frank Mir or, if the winner is injured or otherwise unable to make a fast-enough turnaround, the winner of the Feb. 20 fight between Cain Velasquez and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. White initially said the fight would likely be in the summer, but later said a planned May 29 card in Las Vegas could host Lesnar’s return.
In the interviews, Lesnar, 32, told a dramatic story of his wife driving him 100 miles per hour to a North Dakota hospital after a debilitating bout of diverticulitis floored him during a retreat to Canada that he took after calling off his training camp for a November fight against Shane Carwin. Lesnar said he was feeling so sick in the run-up to the Carwin fight that he missed three weeks of training camp.
Doctors first diagnosed Lesnar with mononucleosis, a diagnosis he was skeptical of, but could have been tied to the fact Lesnar initially refused to undergo a CT scan that could have detected the problem.
Thinking he simply had to recover from mono, a common ailment, Lesnar took a hunting trip to Canada, where he woke up one night in “severe shock” with a 104-degree temperature. After an unsatisfactory trip to a Canadian hospital -- his politically-charged remarks about the visit made headlines themselves -- Lesnar’s wife darted him to a North Dakota hospital where he received a diagnosis of diverticulitis, which Lesnar said he’d been suffering from for almost a year. Lesnar said the disease had infected his body and deprived his system of nutrients.
Diverticulitis is a colon-related disease that caused a perforation in one of Lesnar’s diverticula, extensions of the bowel, which at first appeared to require surgery. The condition is potentially fatal if stool leaks through the perforation into the abdomen. Surgery would remove part of Lesnar’s colon and divert waste to a colostomy bag for a period of time. A second surgery would then reattach his intestines and colon. Lesnar said the procedures would have compelled him to retire from fighting.
But a change in diet -- Lesnar leaned off protein-heavy in meat and potatoes and added fiber and holistic medicine -- looks to have made a dramatic difference. Doctors and Lesnar were almost in disbelief at the complete absence of visible problems in his stomach after another round of tests done Jan. 5 at the Mayo Clinic. At one point, when surgery seemed inevitable, Lesnar was hospitalized for 11 days and had been fed intravenously.
Lesnar said he lost 40 pounds and at one point was running out of breath when simply walking to the bathroom, but has since been able to regain 30 pounds. He dropped as low as 248 at one point -- a weight he said he hasn’t been at “since like second grade” -- but was back up to 273 after he returned to the gym.
Lesnar has proved the biggest pay-per-view draw in MMA. His fight with Frank Mir last year helped the event draw a reported 1.6 million buys, shattering the UFC’s record with a number only three boxing fights in history have surpassed. Lesnar’s fight with Randy Couture at UFC 91 reportedly hovered near 1 million buys.