Brock Lesnar returns to UFC in January 2012 ... hopefully

That's what UFC President Dana White is "optimistic" for.

Brock Lesnar was forced to pull out of his UFC 131 number one contender fight against Junior dos Santos just under two weeks ago when he was once again inflicted with the deadly disease diverticulitis. 

The former heavyweight champion has long been the biggest draw in the world's largest mixed martial arts promotion but with the recent ratings regression on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13, is he losing his luster? And will that only continue with yet another extended absence from the Octagon?

When asked about the current state of the heavyweight division at the UFC 130 conference call, Dana White made sure to remind everyone not to forget about the box-office big timer.

"I'm optimistic that Brock (Lesnar) will bounce back from this thing. Maybe by the first of the year."

Nearly two years ago, Lesnar was on top of the world after successfully defending his title against Frank Mir at UFC 100, the largest selling event (on pay-per-view, at least) in company history.

And then it all went wrong.

During preparation for his Nov. 2009, UFC 106 fight against Shane Carwin, Lesnar would become violently ill with what was later determined to be diverticulitis, an intestinal disorder.

Lesnar nearly died from his bout with the disease, which was initially misdiagnosed as mononucleosis. However, he miraculously bounced back to not only make a full recovery, but to go on and defend his title against the previously mentioned Carwin in what turned out to be one of the greatest comebacks of all time. 

He would drop his title to Cain Velasquez in Oct. 2010 before eventually making a date with Junior dos Santos for a number one contender match at UFC 131 after coaching against the Brazilian on TUF 13.

But the best laid plans of mice and men.

On May 12, 2011, it was announced that Lesnar would be forced to pull out of the fight thanks to another, albeit less serious, flare up of his ongoing intestinal ailment. 

Brock made sure to make it clear that his second go-round with diverticulitis is not nearly as devastating as the first and he will "definitely" not be retiring anytime soon.

It would appear the brass at Zuffa have taken the same optimistic approach.

What do you think Maniacs? Is the glass half full and we'll see Lesnar make his triumphant return come New Year's 2012? Or is that just wishful thinking?

Here's more from White, who says decision day is coming soon after Brock's appointment at the Mayo Clinic tomorrow (May 26, 2011).

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