Brock Lesnar is back in the UFC — officially.
The former UFC heavyweight champion has formally returned from retirement and re-entered himself into the USADA drug-testing pool as of July 3, a USADA spokesperson told MMA Fighting on Monday. By entering back into the pool, the time on Lesnar’s suspension begins again — and he’ll be eligible to compete in the Octagon starting Jan. 8, the spokesperson said.
“After receiving notice of his intent to compete in the UFC, USADA re-entered Brock Lesnar to the testing pool on July 3,” the USADA statement read. “With six months and four days remaining on his period of ineligibility, Lesnar will be able to compete on or after January 8, 2019, should he remain in compliance with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.”
Lesnar showed up at UFC 226 in Las Vegas on Saturday, sat cageside and entered the Octagon after being called out by Daniel Cormier. Cormier, the UFC light heavyweight champion, had just defeated Stipe Miocic to win the heavyweight title. Lesnar shoved Cormier and a mini scuffle and some trash talk ensued.
Afterward, UFC president Dana White said Cormier vs. Lesnar for the UFC heavyweight title is the fight the promotion wants to make. And now it can start putting the wheels in motion for it to happen early next year. The battle of former amateur wrestling standouts is set to be one of the biggest in recent memory for the UFC.
Lesnar, 40, is currently under USADA suspension for testing positive for the banned substance clomiphene in multiple drug tests in relation to his UFC 200 fight with Mark Hunt. Lesnar defeated Hunt in that 2016 fight, but it was later overturned to a no contest by the Nevada Athletic Commission due to the failed drug tests.
There was controversy afterward, because the UFC had waived the four-month period an athlete is supposed to be drug tested prior to returning from retirement. Hunt is currently suing the UFC in part because of that. The last time Lesnar fought in the UFC prior to UFC 200 was December 2011.
In December 2016, Lesnar formally retired from the UFC and removed himself from the USADA drug-testing pool, freezing his suspension with just a shade over six months remaining. In the meantime, Lesnar has been busy with WWE, where he first made his name more than a decade before crossing over into MMA in 2007. Lesnar is the current WWE Universal champion and last wrestled for the promotion in April.
The process a fighter goes through to return to the USADA drug-testing pool consists of providing education to the athlete; reviewing medications and dietary supplements that might have been taken over the previous year; and how to use the whereabouts system, which lets USADA know where fighters are on a daily basis, so doping control officers can show up randomly to administer sample collections for tests.