Brock Lesnar will step into the World Wrestling Entertainment ring this Sunday to entertain the masses with a match against The Undertaker.
But for mixed martial arts fans, one major question remains: If Lesnar hadn't contracted diverticulitis two times, and if his career hadn't been shortened by the illness, how good could he have been in the Octagon?
Lesnar took the UFC by storm when he debuted against Frank Mir in 2008. Lesnar lost the fight after getting caught in a kneebar, of course. But prior to that mental lapse, Lesnar showed a world of potential, along with the freak athleticism and charisma that made him an instant superstar when he began his professional wrestling career.
Lesnar would return later that year, beating Heath Herring in a one-sided fight that also served as Herring's retirement bout. Three months later, he would capture the UFC heavyweight championship by finishing the legendary Randy Couture. In his next fight, Lesnar avenged his loss to Mir at UFC 100, which still stands as the UFC's all-time most successful pay-per-view event.
But then, disaster struck, as Lesnar contracted diverticulitis. He would return a year later, beating Shane Carwin by submission after nearly being finished in the first round. He showed plenty of heart, but the truth was that Lesnar was never the same. The disease had taken something from him, and he lost his championship to Cain Velasquez later that year. He suffered a relapse of diverticulitis after the fight, and would not return for another year. After losing to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141, Lesnar announced his retirement and returned to the WWE.
What if Lesnar hadn't gotten sick? Would he be the greatest heavyweight in UFC history? Or would his late entrance into mixed martial arts always hinder him against younger competition?
Those questions will never be answered, unfortunately. But now, during WrestleMania week, the UFC has released a feature called "Best of the Beast" on the subscription-only Fight Pass service. Viewers can relive all of Lesnar's UFC bouts, but they can also view interviews with wrestling superstars Steve Austin, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jim Ross discussing Lesnar's career and how good he might have been if he'd never gotten sick.
Austin, Johnson and Ross all believe Lesnar could have been the best of all time. And whether you agree with them or not, there is one certainty: Lesnar was a special athlete and likely the biggest and most polarizing attraction the UFC has ever had on its roster.
If you're a Lesnar fan, and you want to relive his greatest UFC moments (and hear commentary on those moments from Austin, Johnson and Ross), go watch the new Fight Pass feature. It's worth your time.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!