Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar looks to have moved a step closer to returning to MMA after splitting from long-time WWE ringside manager Paul Heyman.
The reigning universal champion defends his belt against Roman Reigns at WWE SummerSlam at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on the night of Sunday, August 19.
This is set to be the third time Lesnar clashes with Reigns inside a wrestling ring this year, having surprised everyone by retaining the title at WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans and then being awarded a controversial steel-cage match victory at the Greatest Royal Rumble Event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Since then, Lesnar was in attendance at UFC 226 to see Daniel Cormier dethrone Stipe Miocic. He was then invited into the Octagon by the new UFC heavyweight champion and got into an altercation with “DC.”
Talks over a return to MMA for Lesnar have been in the works for some time, but he still has to serve a reactivated suspension for a doping violation handed down by USADA after his UFC 200 fight win over Mark Hunt.
Although that has since been amended to a no-contest, Lesnar’s ban from the Octagon would end around January 2019. He signed a short-term deal with the WWE following WrestleMania through to SummerSlam, so his next move is of interest to both MMA and wrestling fans.
From a betting perspective, the universal title challenger Reigns is odds-on favorite with sportsbooks worldwide at around 4/6 to win their latest match.
It should be noted, however, that Lesnar was the outsider to retain at WrestleMania 34. Yet, he did just that, despite his deal being up at the time. Bookies are taking no chances with Lesnar who is as short as 11/10 for victory here.
Lesnar is also a betting underdog with oddsmakers who have already priced up a future UFC heavyweight championship bout with Cormier, who is an odds-on 4/9 favorite to win a potential fight. A 13/8 price to dethrone the champ may underestimate his ability in MMA, given Lesnar has held the title before.
Before placing any wager on Lesnar inside a WWE ring or the Octagon, be sure you remember to check the best free bets online. His brutal split from wrestling manager Heyman is a storyline attempt to further his bad guy or “heel” status.
The picture in WWE is more complicated than that, though, as the Money In The Bank contract – that guarantees the holder a championship opportunity anytime, anyplace, anywhere – is also up for grabs at SummerSlam. This has been cashed in on Lesnar before – at WrestleMania 31 – when he first met Reigns and Seth Rollins came out mid-match with the briefcase and won the WWE title by pinning The Big Dog.
Money In The Bank cash-ins have happened at SummerSlam twice before. Lesnar will have to look over his shoulder for the winner of Braun Strowman, who has received a sustained storyline push over the last couple of years in WWE, and Kevin Owens coming out and getting involved.
With a few more months of his doping ban still to go, it remains to be seen if Lesnar remains in WWE beyond SummerSlam and his current deal, retain the universal title again or start another wrestling feud before what looks like an inevitable return to MMA.