The former UFC heavyweight champion announced on Thursday that he’s suffering from a relapse of the intestinal infection that knocked him out of action for a year during 2009-10 and he’s been forced to withdraw from his scheduled No. 1 contender bout at UFC 131.
Because of this latest flare up of diverticulitis – a disease reportedly brought on during the summer of 2009 by his low-fiber diet -- Lesnar is again on the shelf indefinitely, he admitted during a short-notice media conference call with UFC President Dana White. He’s been replaced in his upcoming fight against Junior dos Santos by heavyweight standout Shane Carwin, but said he doesn’t consider this latest setback to be career threatening.
"It's not as serious as last time,” Lesnar said during the call. “It just didn't allow me to train the way I needed to train for a No. 1 contender's bout. I am forced with the decision to either have surgery or to deal with this for the rest of my life.”
Lesnar was initially reported to be suffering from a mystery disease in October, 2009 and was pulled out of a scheduled bout with Carwin at UFC 106. After first being diagnosed with mononucleosis, it was eventually revealed that Lesnar was suffering from diverticulitis, an infection doctors estimated had been ongoing for a year and had caused a perforation in his colon that allowed waste to leak into his abdomen. The disease was thought at the time to be a threat to his fighting career and even his life, but after a year’s worth of treatment he returned to the cage and defeated Carwin by second round submission at UFC 116.
He went on to lose his UFC heavyweight title to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121, but seemed to be fully recovered from the original infection.
"I dodged a bullet about two years ago with diverticulitis, at that time not knowing what the problem was," Lesnar said. "Diverticulitis is an illness that never goes away. It's something that I've dealt with since my first occurrence and have been battling with it.”
This latest setback couldn’t come at a worse time for the UFC. The promotion is currently in the midst of a season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show where both Lesnar and dos Santos appear as coaches to promote their scrap at UFC 131. The company has also recently suffered from the high profile cancelation of its UFC 130 main event, when both Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard dropped out due to injury. A few weeks prior to that, an injury to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones knocked him out of the main event of UFC 133.
In the May issue of ESPN Magazine, Lesanr was named as MMA’s highest paid athlete, earning more than an estimated $5 million in base salary and bonuses during 2010. It is now unclear when fans can expect him back in the cage.
"I will tell you one thing, I'm not retiring,” he said this week. “This isn't the end of my fight career. This is something that I believe, and I have strong faith, that there's a solution to every problem. I just have to find a solution to fix this problem. I love this sport and I love what I do. This isn't the end of Brock Lesnar. This is a speed bump in the road."