MMA: UFC’s Brock Lesnar ready for return after 'life-changing' experience
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
Brock Lesnar is ready to resume training to defend his UFC heavyweight title after a serious intestinal problem derailed his career and endangered his life.
Lesnar hasn’t been in the octagon since UFC 100 last July, when he beat Frank Mir in the biggest event in mixed martial arts history. He struggled through several months of pain and confusion with an illness eventually diagnosed as diverticulitis.
UFC president Dana White expects Lesnar to return this summer, likely fighting the winner of Mir’s March 27 bout against Shane Carwin in Newark, N.J.
“Everybody has got life-changing experiences, and this is one of them for me,” Lesnar said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I believe things happen for a reason. It gave me a different perspective on life and my family. I considered myself a healthy human being, and for something like this to happen to me, I need to re-evaluate. I have to make some changes.”
After just four fights over less than two years with UFC, Lesnar is considered the league’s top pay-per-view draw. The former NCAA wrestling champion and WWE professional wrestler is thrilled to resume his MMA career after thinking he might be forced to retire by major abdominal surgery.
“The heavyweight division should be back on their toes again,” Lesnar said.
He spent several months struggling with diverticulitis, a swelling of pouches in the intestinal wall. Lesnar said he had abscesses in his intestines that became infected — and he also apparently tested positive last fall for mononucleosis, which might have delayed getting the proper diagnosis of his intestinal woes.
Lesnar withdrew from his scheduled fight against Carwin at UFC 106 last November, but didn’t yet know why he was exhausted and losing weight. Although Lesnar is vague about the dates and locations of his health woes’ progression, he lost 40 pounds and eventually had a major scare while at a hunting lodge in Canada, when he became delirious and passed out from pain while at least three hours from medical treatment.
After a stint in a Canadian hospital that left him criticizing the entire Canadian medical system and railing against U.S. health reform Wednesday, he returned to North Dakota and was diagnosed with diverticulitis after a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. But after originally being told he would need surgery, a colonoscopy on Jan. 5 revealed the problems apparently had healed with the help of antibiotics.
“The Mayo Clinic said, ’You’ve got a winning lottery ticket,”’ Lesnar said.
White said Lesnar will return in the summer, giving a boost to the ever-growing company after a series of injury postponements and cancellations over the past several months. If an injury prevents the winner of Mir’s bout with Carwin from being ready, Lesnar is likely to fight the winner of a Feb. 21 bout in Australia between Cain Velasquez and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Lesnar has altered his diet, moving away from an “all-protein” approach befitting his weightlifting program and adding more fiber and greens. He’ll return to his gym for training on Thursday morning after raising his weight from a low of 248 — which he hadn’t weighed “since second grade” — to 273.
“I think it’s raised my conditioning level, because I was really at the bottom,” Lesnar said. “Now I’m back in the gym, and I feel great. I feel like my old self again.”