After UFC 223 at the post-fight press conference, late Saturday night in Brooklyn, UFC President Dana White stated that he would be attending Wrestle Mania in New Orleans and not to see his former heavyweight champion and WrestleMania headliner, Brock Lesnar. Instead, White was going to support his other star, "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey.
“(I’m going) for Ronda,” he said. “I didn’t even know Brock was in it until you just said that. Swear to god I didn’t know.”
Rousey, a former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, made her official WWE debutlast night at WrestleMania 34 inside the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans to a rousing success. Rousey and Kurt Angle, a fellow Olympian, beat Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in a mixed tag-team match.
Ronda Rousey punishes Stephanie McMahon while teaming up with Kurt Angle against Triple H & Stephanie McMahon in a highly-anticipated Mixed Tag Team Match: Courtesy of the award-winning WWE Network.
Rousey (12-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) made her WWE debut in January and had since been building toward her first match. After a lengthy and dramatic match, Rousey won it with her signature armbar, and the reaction to her performance was overwhelmingly positive.
Lesnar will return to the octagon to resume his career – after a mandated six-month waiting period for drug testing under the UFC’s anti-doping program. Lesnar’s short-lived return to the UFC from the WWE, which was cut short by a positive drug test at UFC 200, did not make his MMA contract null and void.
“He retired from UFC; he retired from MMA,” White said. “I think (he signed a multi-fight deal). Brock still has a contract with us.”
When White was photographed alongside Lesnar in February, White admitted the two were discussing another comeback for the ex-champ.
Last Friday at the UFC’s 25th anniversary press conference at the Barclays Center, White teased a fight between Lesnar and the winner of July’s superfight between light-heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier (20-1) and current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (18-2).
“(Lesnar) wants to come back,” White said.
As for Rousey, the UFC exec is more than fine that his former star is transitioning to professional wrestling. After a pair of knockout losses, he’s repeatedly said he doesn’t want to see her get hurt again.
Watch Mickey Gall and CM Punk talk what's next for each fighter in the Octagon, after Gall submitted Punk in the first round of Punk's UFC debut.
Dana White also confirmed CM Punk’s opponent for his return to the Octagon. The UFC President confirmed to TMZ Sports on Thursday that the former WWE superstar will face Mike Jackson at UFC 225. The event will take place at the United Center in Chicago on June 9 and features a middleweight championship rematch, as Robert Whittaker will defend his title for the first time against the top contender, Yoel Romero. A women’s strawweight grudge match between Claudia Gadelha and Carla Esparza is also scheduled for the event.
Punk, real name Phil Brooks, made his UFC and professional MMA debut in September 2016 against Mickey Gall at UFC 203. Gall made quick work of the Chicago native, submitting him in the first round of the event in Cleveland. With the UFC making its way to Punk’s home city of Chicago, the stars have aligned for his return to the Octagon.
The UFC is like hip-hop right now, invading every other sports culture unapologetically.