Lesnar's Next UFC Opponent a Mystery but Worth Pondering

brock lesnar

Andreas Hale

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 3:17 PM GMT

Wednesday, Apr. 11, 2018 3:17 PM GMT

It's more "when" than "if" regarding Brock Lesnar's return to UFC. What's really intriguing is the "who," as in: Who will be the next opponent for the former heavyweight champion?

UFC: Lesnar's Next Opponent

It appears former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar will eventually make his way back to the organization. Although it has been reported he signed a new deal with WWE, the word is that it is a short-term deal and Lesnar will begin preparing for a return to the Octagon sooner rather than later. Of course, there’s that little matter of a pending U.S. Anti-Doping Agency suspension, but Lesnar will use that time preparing for whatever he decides to do next.

So it's not really a matter of "if" he returns to UFC. It's "when" and "against who?"

Bovada has a set up possibilities on the UFC odds board for who Lesnar’s next opponent will be. (Note: Must fight by April 2019 for action.) Let's break down the best options for your UFC picks if you plan to wager on a potential foe for “The Beast.”

Mark Hunt (+2500)

This isn’t happening. Lesnar failed a pair of drug tests before and after beating Hunt at UFC 200, and it sent the Samoan into a frenzy when he found out Lesnar cheated. Hunt has been very vocal against the UFC’s handling of banned substance offenders and is likely not interested in stepping back into the Octagon with Lesnar. There’s a story but this is a long shot. No dice.

Francis Ngannou (+900)

Lesnar despises strikers but loves opponents who can’t stop a takedown. Ngannou fits both of those categories. However, Ngannou’s savage punching power is going to be a turnoff for Lesnar. There’s also this lingering issue of the UFC still being heavily invested in Ngannou despite his heavyweight title loss to Stipe Miocic. Pitting him against Lesnar could potentially squash Nagannou’s momentum.

Stefan Struve (+850)

This one comes out of left field and, honestly, is the one that should be taken completely off the table. There’s no value because Struve isn’t one of the bigger names in the division nor is there a narrative that they could push. Just forget about it.

Jon Jones (+300)

So here’s where the "must fight by April 2019" could be a problem. A potential Jones-Lesnar fight is one over which UFC fans would salivate. The problem is that neither of these fighters is trustworthy and there could be red flags flying all over this fight before it's even made. Can you imagine the PR nightmare if both Lesnar and Jones are popped by the USADA for banned substances?

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Aside from that, Jones still hasn’t been levied with disciplinary action from his positive drug test last July. Nobody knows how long he could be suspended for but it could definitely interfere with the April 2019 date. Chances are that Jones’ suspension will end sometime this year, as will Lesnar’s. It’s likely they could meet at the end of 2018 or early 2019. It will just be a matter of whether the UFC wants to trust these two with such a big fight.

Daniel Cormier (+190)

Did you see Cormier’s face when Dana White teased a potential fight with Brock Lesnar at the UFC 25th Anniversary news conference?

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Winner of Daniel Cormier - @stipemiocic fights @BrockLesnar next? @dc_mma is loving it 😂 pic.twitter.com/84DBJrXRRl

— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) April 7, 2018
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Cormier is a former heavyweight who is the current light heavyweight champion but is heading back up to his old weight class for the chance to win the heavyweight title in a fight against Stipe Miocic. These odds hinge on whoever you think will win that fight. There’s also the matter of whether the UFC will reward Lesnar with a title shot despite doing next to nothing to earn it. But when has logic ever stopped the UFC from doing what it wanted? Personally, I think Cormier has an excellent chance of dethroning Miocic. His only two losses were to Jon Jones and he seems more than open to the idea of facing Lesnar.

Stipe Miocic (-130)

The odds-on favorite who has the UFC record for consecutive heavyweight title defenses with three. He has turned back the challenges of Francis Ngannou, Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem during his current title run.

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A lot of this current line has to do with Miocic being around a -170 favorite against Cormier when the two meet at UFC 226. The same concerns apply to Lesnar facing Miocic as they do with Cormier. If the UFC rewards Lesnar with an immediate title shot, Miocic could be the guy. It’s an intriguing matchup between a former champion and the current champion on a historic title defense streak.

And the Best Value Picks are ...

Of all the options, Cormier is the one that has the most value at +190. He’s certainly a threat to Miocic and his willingness to face Lesnar makes this a solid pick. The second-best value goes to Jones at +300 considering he doesn’t have to win a fight to get a fight with Lesnar. He has already teased a jump to heavyweight and, barring the looming sanctions, is a relatively easy fight to make that won’t disrupt the title picture. Those are the two best routes to go, so choose wisely.

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