Speaking for the first time since this weekend's whirlwind of rumor and announcement, Brock Lesnar of UFC and WWE sat down with Hannah Storm on ESPN SportsCenter this morning.
They prefaced the interview with clips from Brock's announcement of his new WWE contract with Michelle Beadle in March 2015, which featured Lesnar "officially closing the door on MMA".
"I couldn't live with that decision."
He said he "immediately" was "haunted" by his decision to retire from MMA. He thought he could fulfill his competitive needs in WWE, but found that he couldn't.
Lesnar also said he felt "cheated" by diverticulitis. He says he never felt like he lost to a foe - he lost to the illness. Brock feels 100% and he is ready to face his opponent...
Mark Hunt. Knockout artist. 7 - 4 - 1 and on a two fight win streak.
Lesnar says he didn't care who he fought, and doesn't second guess this fight at all. Dana White said UFC wanted him to face the 42 year old Hunt, and he said yes immediately.
Explaining the business process, Lesnar says the decision came from him and him alone. He approached White, and then went to Vince McMahon for a "big boy conversation". He's not aware of anything UFC will give WWE for the fight, but said it made sense for all involved because he's a crossover star, a "modern day Bo Jackson".
Denying that this was driven by the absence of Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, Lesnar painted the entire situation as his desire to compete and the fact that it will make him and all his business partners money.
There was a plug for SummerSlam, where he confirmed he'll be appearing - but the Beast Incarnate said he doesn't know who his opponent will be there. Lesnar again said WWE doesn't fulfill him the way MMA does, and said there could be no comparison between in terms of the conditioning and preparation required. Brock joked about his training, but it's been ongoing for months, and his workouts even prior to WrestleMania 32 were done with an eye toward a return to the Octagon.
He also said he doesn't know what might happen if (or, as he clarified when), UFC 200 is a smashing success.
A continued MMA career would be an interesting prospect, as wins in the Octagon could drive up interest in Lesnar's WWE appearances - and this interview makes it pretty clear that Brock and Vince plan to play out the remaining year-and-a-half plus remaining on that deal.
Is it July 9 yet?