It was announced on Saturday night that WWE’s Brock Lesnar will return to the UFC’s heavyweight division, where he’ll be facing PRIDE and K-1 veteran Mark Hunt at UFC 200 in July.
Lesnar opened up about the move—his first fight in the Octagon since December 2011 after he was sidelined with diverticulitis. Lesnar previously said he was “closing the door” on his MMA career, but he said he was never entirely comfortable about the decision to retire.
“I’m a crossover athlete. I’m the modern-day Bo Jackson, people,” he told ESPN.
He will be making a “boatload of money” for the bout. But Lesnar said he came up with the idea to fight again, adding that the UFC didn’t court him.
“It was the hardest decision for me to make,” Lesnar added. “That decision has haunted me for the last 15 months. I figured I couldn’t live like that for the rest of my life. I’m a big believer in living out your dreams and facing your fears.”
Lesnar will also appear at the WWE’s SummerSlam on Aug. 21.
“I’m excited about it. I’m enthusiastic. I couldn’t be more excited and honored to have the opportunity that both companies have faith in Brock Lesnar to allow him to step back into the Octagon,” he said.
Lesnar, however, faces a threat in Hunt, 42, a known knockout artist who is coming off a KO victory of former UFC heavyweight champ. Frank Mir. Hunt, who at times has struggled with grapplers throughout his career, fought for the UFC’s interim championship belt against Fabricio Verdum in November 2014.
“I’ve never turned down a fight in the UFC,” Lesnar told the website. “Even when I was champ, I never turned down a fight. When I was fighting to be a champ, I never turned down a fight. If [UFC president] Dana White called me and said, ‘You have opponent X, Y or Z, which do you want?’—he never gave me those options.
“I’m a grappler at heart. [Hunt] is a heavy hitter. I think that’s what the people want to see. The UFC ultimately culminated because we’re going to put guys with opposing disciplines against each other. I think I match up very well. If Mark ends up on the ground, the fight’s over.”
UFC 200, which includes Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier in the light heavyweight title fight, will be held July 9 in Las Vegas. Women’s bantamweight champ Miesha Tate will also face challenger Amanda Nunes.
A number former UFC champions will fight during the star-studded event.
Former featherweight king Jose Aldo will also have a rematch with ex-lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Meanwhile, former heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez will fight Travis Browne. Johnny Hendricks, the former welterweight champ, will fight Kelvin Gastelum, and former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw will fight Raphael Assuncao.