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Cageside Quote: 'If Brock Lesnar loses don't be surprised to see him in WWE fairly soon'

Though Brock Lesnar didn't take a dive against Alistair Overeem last night at UFC 141 and almost certainly won't make a shock return to WWE Raw in just two days time as their latest mystery man, the truth is close enough that a former colleague of Lesnar's like Chris Jericho who knows his modus operandi can plausibly make those false accusations and get away with it.

Throughout his career, Lesnar has always sought the easy road and looked for an exit strategy when things weren't going his way. When Vince McMahon decided that Brock Lesnar was a failure as the top star on Smackdown in early 2004 and it was time for him to drop the WWE title to Eddie Guerrero, it didn't take long for a burnt out Lesnar to hand his notice into the company. Supremely confident in his athletic ability, Lesnar thought his local celebrity and raw talent would be enough to snag him a place on the Minnesota Vikings football team, but quickly gave up on the idea of an NFL career when he realised it wouldn't be that easy.

For a while it looked like Brock was up shit creek without a paddle, as he was embroiled in a lengthy legal dispute with WWE over the restrictive terms of his multi-year non-compete agreement, which precluded him from going into MMA, and it looked like he was resigned to his fate of returning to WWE for a worse deal than the one he had before. But at the last second he found a Joker card up his sleeve, when a desperate Antonio Inoki signed him to a lucrative New Japan Pro Wrestling deal in the autumn of 2005, despite his ongoing lawsuit with WWE. Inoki's Hail Mary completely failed, as Lesnar was an expensive flop as IWGP Heavyweight champion, but worked out perfectly for Lesnar himself, since it gave him the time and resources to obtain a favourable settlement from WWE, allowing him to start his MMA career in earnest. There was still the IWGP title to deal with, but Lesnar showed his gratitude to the struggling New Japan promotion by playing hardball and failing to fly to Japan for a scheduled title defence against Hiroshi Tanahashi, which led to him being stripped of the belt.

That brings us to this week, where Brock Lesnar was setting up his UFC get out plan before he even stepped foot in the Octagon, by making it clear that he wouldn't refuse Vince McMahon's big bucks if he came calling. One very halfhearted performance later that didn't play to his strengths, leading to a quick defeat at the hands of the best heavyweight kickboxer in the UFC, he then immediately handed in his notice to Dana White by announcing his retirement from MMA. You didn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to realise that Brock was doing the spade work to angle for a quick return to WWE, because he knew he couldn't hang with the younger, more well rounded athletes that have emerged in the heavyweight division while he's been more preoccupied with recovering from two bouts of diverticulitis than improving his fighting skills.

Indeed, Dave Meltzer on his latest Wrestling Observer Radio show speculated that Brock "just came in to get beat", because he wasn't the same Brock of three years ago and knew in his heart after training that he wouldn't be able to take Overeem down and there went his chances of victory. Moreover, Meltzer had heard about Lesnar's idea to jump straight from UFC to WWE should he lose for the last few weeks:

"[Dana] said that he didn't know that this was happening, but I will say this, all week long I had heard from plenty of people that if Brock was to lose he would, and I shouldn't even say all week because I heard for the past three or four weeks that if Brock were to lose don't be surprised to see him in WWE fairly soon.... When he started with the [retirement] speech, I thought, you know, OK, very very interesting, because it was clearly practised, he knew ahead of time. I don't know if he had told anyone but there were rumours going around, not so much that he was going to quit, but there was an offer out for him and if he lost in a bad way, which the feeling was if he lost it would be in a bad way, that he wouldn't be able to be a main event fighter again and without being a main event fighter he wouldn't make millions for a fight and Brock is not a guy who is going to fight for $500,000 or $700,000. He's just not going to do that, especially when he can, in his own mind, make far more than that doing pro wrestling."

Of course, Dana will do everything in his power to stop Brock from showing up on WWE TV anytime soon, just like Vince McMahon successfully managed to delay the start of Brock's MMA career by a couple of years, even though ultimately Brock got the last laugh in that legal battle. The question becomes whether Dana will resort to the stick of his lawyers like Vince did almost eight years ago or take the carrot approach of offering Brock a big payday to face someone like Frank Mir or Roy Nelson on FOX to keep him in the UFC fold for another fight or two. After all, Brock wouldn't be the first pro wrestler or even MMA fighter to renege on a speedy retirement vow.

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