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Report: UFC’s move to ESPN+ doomed Brock Lesnar’s PPV return

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was expected to bring Brock Lesnar back to the Octagon for a heavyweight title fight against reigning division champion, Daniel Cormier, at the upcoming UFC 241 pay-per-view (PPV) event this August in Anaheim.

Instead, “DC” will rematch Stipe Miocic.

That’s because Lesnar hastily withdrew his commitment to return, despite his enrollment in United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and what I'm sure were months of negotiations. So what could have possible kept the pro wrestling deity from another monster payday?

Being downgraded to just “payday.”

That may also explain this surprise retirement.

UFC recently changed its PPV business model (full details here). In the old days, anyone with a cable or satellite provider, or high-speed internet for digital viewing options, could simply make a phone call, press a button on their TV remote, or click an online prompt.

Those days, much to the chagrin of this fighter’s family, are long gone.

Instead, mixed martial arts (MMA) fans will need to sign up for a paid subscription to ESPN+, which is now the exclusive home for UFC PPV events. That limits the number of PPV buys to the number of paid subscribers who are not only UFC fans, but also willing to shell out an additional $60 to watch.

Love him or hate him, Lesnar is still a tremendous draw.

But now the former heavyweight champion, along with every other top UFC star, has a PPV ceiling, which means PPV points — a percentage earned on every sale — no longer hold much value, because the subscriber base has a finite number of potential buys.

So unless there is a flat fee to compensate for it, there’s really no reason for Lesnar to come back and get punched in the face. Let’s be honest with each other, this wasn’t about winning the title or the thrill of competition, it was about the money.

On both sides.

That’s why Lesnar, who hasn’t seen the win column in nearly eight years, was able to earn a UFC title shot. But unlike most fighters, who get screwed at the bargaining table because they don’t have any clout, Lesnar could afford to walk away and go back to the land of make believe.

Can’t I say I blame those fighters who choose to follow him.

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