For a little while, it sounded like WWE star Brock Lesnar might finally return to the UFC’s Octagon for a heavyweight title fight with Daniel Cormier this year. Unfortunately for Lesnar fans, this long-awaited fight ultimately fizzled out, as Lesnar recommitted to his pro wrestling career.
Shortly after it became clear that Brock Lesnar would not be returning to the UFC, Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer reported that the former heavyweight champ’s negotiations with the UFC were hindered by the promotion’s new pay-per-view model.
UFC pay-per-views are now available exclusively through ESPN+. Given that not all fight fans are ESPN+ subscribers, the expectation is that this will significantly lower the average number of pay-per-view sale — a problem for stars like Lesnar who get a portion of the pay-per-view buys for the cards they compete on. Lesnar is reported to have asked for a flat fee to combat this issue, which the UFC declined.
Speaking to ESPN, however, UFC President Dana White wholeheartedly denied this report from Meltzer, claiming that Brock Lesnar simply got a better deal from WWE.
“Completely not true,” White said (via MMA News). “That’s absolutely false. And if you really look at when we were on pay per view, when we were on ‘traditional pay per view,’ everybody was talking about how the pay per view business is dying. It’s dying, and nobody can pull numbers anymore. Really? We were still pulling $5M to $7M pay per view buys a year when we were on the ‘dying traditional pay per view.’ You can’t listen to any of this noise. That’s not why Brock Lesnar didn’t fight. Brock Lesnar got a better deal is basically what happened for Brock.”
Do you believe Dana White on this one? Join the debate in the comments.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/7/2019.