UFC President Dana White said he doesn’t expect former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar to be eligible to return to competition until January after re-enrolling in the company’s drug-testing program this week.
Lesnar entered the octagon Saturday following Daniel Cormier’s first-round knockout of Stipe Miocic at UFC 226.
Cormier (21-1), who captured the heavyweight belt and already had the UFC’s light-heavyweight belt, said in the octagon he was anticipating fighting Lesnar but later said in a television interview that it may make more sense to defend his light-heavyweight belt first as he waits on Lesnar.
He also told UFC reporters a March date with Lesnar would make sense.
WWE performer Lesnar defeated top-10 heavyweight Mark Hunt in his most recent UFC appearance two years ago this weekend, but he submitted a positive test for a banned substance and is required to re-enroll in the USADA program to regain eligibility beyond his suspension time.
White said he believes the USADA program requires a six-month testing period before a suspended athlete can compete again.
The fight would’ve made perfect sense for the UFC’s November card at Madison Square Garden in New York, but the timing sets up better for a possible Cormier light-heavyweight date, perhaps against the Aug. 4 winner of the Alexander Gustafsson-Volkan Oezdemir fight at Staples Center.
“Last time Gustafsson fought me, we made no money, so this guy’s going to have to be something special,” Cormier said. “I can fight in November, and I can fight in March and then I’ll be done.”
White is looking forward to getting to Cormier-Lesnar, noting how the two established amateur wrestlers have long debated who would win a UFC battle between the pair.
Lesnar “is free and clear to do this fight,” despite his ties to WWE, White said. “He lets them know what’s coming up.”
White said he doesn’t mind criticism that the popular Lesnar may not be worthy of the title shot.
“He popped [a positive test], but he beat Mark Hunt and it’s a fight people want to see,” White said. “And Cormier wants that fight.”