Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar said during an interview with ESPN on Tuesday that he will not return to mixed-martial arts competition and will now perform exclusively for World Wrestling Entertainment.
“I think the older you get the wiser you become, and I didn’t want to be that guy that retired and came back," Lesnar said on Sportscenter. "So there was a lot of different things that went through my mind. This wasn’t an overnight decision.”
Lesnar, who hasn't fought professionally since 2011, compiled a 5-3 record in the octagon, defeating the legendary Randy Couture to capture the UFC heavyweight strap in 2008, in what was just his fourth fight.
A former NCAA wrestling champion who also attempted to play in the NFL, Lesnar was a dominant force in UFC, brutalizing opponents with a dangerous combination of power and speed. His career was derailed by a bout with diverticulitis, an intestinal disorder which required him to undergo surgery in 2009. He eventually lost the heavyweight title to current champ Cain Velasquez in 2010.
Since his last appearance in UFC, Lesnar has appeared sporadically in the WWE, working a part-time schedule and wrestling matches against high-profile opponents several times a year. The current WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Lesnar will compete in the main event of Wrestlemania 31 at Levi's Staidum in Santa Clara on Sunday.
Lesnar's contract with WWE required him to appear for only a limited number of performances each year. His last scheduled appearance with WWE was scheduled for March 30.
But Lesnar said he reached a new deal with the company on Monday night in Los Angeles.
“At the end of the day, last night, old Vince McMahon put the offer on the table that I couldn’t refuse," he said, referring to the wrestling mogul and head of WWE.
The move is a coup for McMahon, who lost another one of his star talents, Phil Brooks, to UFC last year. Brooks, better known in the wrestling world as "CM Punk," quit the company after a dispute with WWE management early in 2014.
"Brock re-signs with WWE. #CongratsToUs," McMahon wrote on his verified Twitter account.
UFC President Dana White did not offer an immediate comment.
Lesnar said the chance to avoid the wear and tear of the octagon, coupled with the fact that he won't have to work a full road schedule like most WWE performers, made McMahon's offer very appealing.
“I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. I’ve been in a bad position with my health. I’ve been in a bad position with my money. I’ve been in a great position with both, and I’m happy. I love what I’m doing. I work a limited schedule," Lesnar said. "I work part time with full-time pay, like everybody wants.”
Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for breaking news