By Darryl Rigby

So Dana White has hinted at a potential return for former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar. Perhaps the most intriguing question is, why?

When he quit the Octagon at the end of 2011 and returned to the theatrical world of WWE, even the most hardened of Lesnar fans would have struggled to envisage his return after the brutal beating he endured at the hands, and knees, of Alistair Overeem.

The devastating TKO, his second in two fights after he surrendered the belt to Cain Velasquez in his previous fight, coupled with diverticulitis, a debilitating stomach disease, meant the post-fight interview in which he declared his intention to quit the UFC was taken with solemnity and MMA fans believed they had witnessed the last of the South Dakota colossus.

Since his departure the rumour-mill has been on overdrive regarding a return but given Brock’s contractual commitment to pro-wrestling and White’s insistence that their relationship remained fractured, a comeback just never appeared likely.

Fast forward 2 years, though, and White’s output on the topic has changed somewhat. “Would he like to fight again? I’m sure he would. We’ll see how this whole thing plays out. It’s definitely a possibility.”

Could it be a matter of coincidence that this sudden shift at the negotiating table coincides with the UFC’s biggest PPV draw, Georges St. Pierre, taking an indefinite sabbatical as well as arguably the sport’s greatest of all time, Anderson Silva, suffering a horrific leg break in December that casts serious doubt about him ever competing again? Not likely.

Simply put, the UFC money men lack faith in the marketability of the majority of their current champions. For evidence, one must look no further than the next PPV event, UFC 169. The card features 2 title fights, a clear indication that there is little confidence in the ability of champions Jose Aldo and Renan Barao to single-handedly sell PPVs.

This is where Brock becomes a potentially invaluable commodity. Loved and loathed in equal measures, he was the headliner on 4 of the top 6 best-selling fight cards of all time. That’s some pulling power!

White even remained coy when asked if the UFC would be willing to share Lesnar with WWE, indicating a sense of desperation after he scoffed at the same suggestion, previously.

But perhaps one factor is being slightly overlooked. The events in which Lesnar sold mass PPV buys were before the Velasquez and Overeem defeats and the biggest question is whether the American fans will be willing to part with $50 for a fighter that looked totally outmatched in his previous 2 outings.

There are numerous variables that could mean this rumour remains just that. Contractual wrangling, age, and money could all put paid to a possible return but White has revealed the stomach disease, which hindered training and fight preparation, left a sense of ‘what if’ for Lesnar who felt he could of offered more had he been healthy.

Fight fans may well buy into this, at least in a comeback fight, and a return in any capacity could prove financially rewarding for all parties, but one thing’s for sure: if he does return, he’ll have to drastically improve on his last performances if the UFC is to repeatedly draw the PPV numbers they’re quite obviously looking for.