Last night at UFC 169, Heavyweight competitors Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir went to war for three full rounds. Mir holds the distinction of a 1-1 record against Lesnar inside the octagon, with their last fight at UFC 100 ending in a 2nd Round TKO victory for Brock. On the other side of the coin, Overeem is the last man that Brock battled in the UFC, sending the WWE beast packing via a first round TKO at UFC 141. Lesnar has not competed in MMA since that contest in December of 2011.
Following his Unanimous Decision win over Mir, Overeem had these words for the crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ:
“I have one more thing to say, I heard there’s word that Brock Lesnar is about to come back to the UFC. Well, I’ll be here waiting for him.“
The rumors have been swirling for months about the potential return of Brock Lesnar to the octagon. When Dana White hinted that a huge announcement would be made before the start of UFC 168, many had speculated the UFC President was going to reveal a return bout for the WWE Superstar. Alas, the announcement was instead the ground-breaking UFC Fight Pass Network.
However, the murmuring still continued for a potential return to the octagon by The Next Big Thing. Ariel Helwani even broached the topic with CM Punk before the Royal Rumble. Punk thought that the potential was there, noting Brock’s physical prowess and his absence from MMA due to an intestinal illness as motivating factors for a return.
Overeem is no fool to self-promoting in the fight game. If Lesnar is to return, a rematch with the man that put him out of the UFC is certainly high on the list of potential return bouts. While nothing has been concrete in regards to discussions between Brock and the UFC, Overeem is clearly planting seeds in case the return comes to fruition.
Dominick Cruz held the UFC Bantamweight title for over three years, clocking in a reign of exactly 1117 days. Perhaps an even more impressive stat is Cruz only defended his title twice, both of which occurred in 2011. The 135-lb fighter had been sidelined since May of 2012 and was hoping to return to the octagon on February 1st to do battle with emerging star and interim champion, Renan Barao. Unfortunately, after being on the shelf for nearly two years with multiple knee surgeries, Cruz suffered yet another setback, this time in the form of a torn groin.
It was announced on ESPN SportsCenter on Monday that Dana White had effectively stripped Cruz of the title and awarded it to Barao, bumping his championship status from interim to undisputed. White also announced that fan favorite Urijah Faber would fill the slot vacated by the injured Cruz. “The California Kid” is taking the fight on only a three week notice and is just coming off an impressive victory over Michael McDonald from December 14th.
While Faber will only have had a 7 week grace period between fights, Barao’s last fight occurred in September, defeating Eddie Wineland with a 2nd round TKO. The added rest, however, might not mean as much with such a short period of time to adapt his fighting strategy from Cruz to Faber. Regardless, Barao hasn’t lost a fight since his MMA in 2005 and defeated Faber in their first encounter for the interim Bantamweight Title at UFC 149.
Faber is riding a four fight winning streak, with his last loss being the same UFC 149 encounter with Barao. Cruz’s latest injury provides Faber the opportunity to capitalize on the momentum he’s built in the past year and find redemption against the 33-1-1 Bantamweight Champion.