LOS ANGELES — Brock Lesnar was asked to explain the appeal of Brock Lesnar.
“I guess it’s because I’ve always done things my way,” the former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight king said on the eve of his Friday night main event against Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“The unpredictability — that’s the most intriguing thing, maybe.”
That’s brilliant insight, really.
For starters, Lesnar, 34, doesn’t actually need the UFC.
With a career consisting of only seven fights, he’s already proved capable of reigning as champion after winning the belt over mixed martial arts legend Randy Couture in 2008 and defending it twice.
Extended delays between his bouts, caused by two difficult bouts with the intestinal disease diverticulitis, have only amplified interest in the popular former WWE star, who once tried out for the Minnesota Vikings.
He hasn’t fought in the octagon since October 2010, when then-unbeaten Cain Velasquez belted Lesnar with a right, rushed him and scored a first-round technical knockout at Honda Center.
Fans wondered if Lesnar would ever fight again, especially after surgery was required to treat the diverticulitis.
Did he think about retiring?
“Not at all,” Lesnar said. “A guy has to be healthy to pursue a fight career in the UFC. That’s all I wanted to see — how my health played out. Once I knew I was feeling good, I was ready to go.”
With Lesnar’s bill of health clean, UFC leaders Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White sought to mark his return with a super heavyweight battle pitting the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Lesnar against the similarly massive, 6-5, 260-pound Overeem, a kickboxing-skilled veteran of 47 MMA fights.
The bout could last five rounds, a designation typically reserved for title fights but placed on this mega-fight because of the interest in the bout and Overeem’s Strikeforce belt. The UFC purchased the organization earlier this year.
During training, Lesnar and Overeem watched Velasquez surrender his heavyweight belt to Junior Dos Santos, and the winner of this bout will now earn the next shot at the Brazilian champ.
“We’ve studied Alistair and tried to figure out his tendencies,” Lesnar said. “There are a lot of different things to look at. I know I have to perform to the best of my capabilities to beat him.
“We’ve had a successful camp, injury free, and hopefully by the time we’re in Las Vegas, no stones have been unturned. You never know until you get into the octagon, though. Anything can happen.”
That’s the Lesnar hook, of course.
Among the current speculation is that Lesnar might leave the UFC should he lose to Overeem and rejoin WWE in some capacity.
“I was recently asked to be on a WWE Legends video game, and when I did it rumors sprouted I was coming back,” Lesnar said. “I’m an ultimate fighter.
“I know (pro wrestling’s) always there. If the organization sees business to be made off me, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would turn down money, do you?”
Still, he maintains that his “perfect world” and “ultimate dream” is to defeat Overeem and Dos Santos, to “jump this hurdle and get my title back.”
UFC President White certainly wants Lesnar around.
“It’s exciting, it’s fun when he’s here,” White said of Lesnar. “His fights are exciting and he’s a guy who has accomplished a lot of things.”
Lesnar contends that he’s made “huge leaps in every aspect” of MMA fighting since he last stepped into an octagon, particularly “having confidence in my hands.”
As for the intrigue about his life plan, Lesnar says, “I am who I am. I keep a tight group around me. I don’t trust anyone but my wife and inner circle.”