— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) June 5, 2016
Brock Lesnar‘s days in UFC looked to be over, but the 38-year-old is returning to the Octagon.
The UFC announced Lesnar will fight in UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas, per MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani. His opponent has not been named at this time.
Earlier on Saturday, Helwani first reported Lesnar was in discussions with the UFC about the fight.
Lesnar hasn’t fought in the company since losing to Alistair Overeem in December 2011. He retired from the UFC after the defeat.
In the years since, the former UFC heavyweight champion made occasional appearances in WWE after working out a part-time contract with the wrestling company. The deal allowed Lesnar to make a healthy income without having to hit the road for 300 days every year.
It looked like Lesnar closed the door on the UFC when he agreed to a contract extension with WWE in March 2015. In an interview with the Associated Press’ Greg Beacham, he explained his decision:
The fighter in me wants to continue, but at this stage in my life, it ain’t just about me anymore. You put your pride to the side. You hug your wife and your kids. I’m a 37-year-old man, and some days I feel like I’m 80, just with all the things I’ve experienced, all the things I’ve done. I feel fortunate about it. It’s like, what else can I do? Why go backward?
While Lesnar‘s UFC return would be a surprise, it’s not an unforeseen development. In an episode of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast in October 2015, Lesnar said he was close to coming back in the past (via Fox Sports’ Damon Martin):
It wasn’t a bluff. I felt robbed by diverticulitis. I felt robbed by being sick. I was feeling good and it took me a couple years to start feeling good. I’m at home, I’m working out, my life is great, everything’s in tune, my contract’s coming to an end with WWE, hey it’s been a great time but something’s missing.
I started a training camp. I wanted to test myself and see where I was, not more physical, but mentally. I wanted to see the mental challenges that it was going to take. If your head’s not in the game, the last place you want to get into is in the Octagon.
After Conor McGregor’s sudden departure from the event, which Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier now headline, getting Lesnar on the UFC 200 card would help replace some lost star power.
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