Looking at his modest 5-3 (1) record you wouldn’t think Brock Lesnar played such a pivotal role in the growth of the UFC, but you would be wrong. Lesnar was perhaps the first true crossover star for the UFC, he brought over much of the WWE fanbase with him when he made his UFC debut against Frank Mir at UFC 81 in 2008.
Until a certain Irishman stormed onto the scene, Lesnar was the biggest PPV draw the UFC had ever had. Five cards Lesnar was on, drew over a million buys, the highest being UFC 100 with 1.3 million; some figures place it even higher at 1.6 million. For comparison, Ronda Rousey was only involved in two which did over a million. It’s hard to find truly accurate figures with UFC PPV’s, figures do vary slightly depending on where you look, but it gives you an indication just how big a draw Lesnar really was.
Lesnar won the UFC heavyweight title in only his 4th fight, defended it twice, before a combination of failing to evolve his all-around game and his battle with diverticulitis cut short his MMA career.
A return at UFC 200 ended with a win over Mark Hunt, but a failed drug test resulted in the fight being declared a no contest, and he was giving a one year ban. The drug test does put an asterisk on his career, but pre-USADA you could say that about plenty of others.
There is talk Lesnar wants to return to the UFC once more when his WWE contract expires, but at 40 even if Lesnar does return it will be a one and done deal in all probability.
The importance of Brock Lesnar to the UFC and the sport should not be overlooked.