Update: The complete audio from this interview is now at the end of the post.
BRIAN D’SOUZA: [When you were sick], maybe you thought a lot about your family, about what you’ve achieved in life…any regrets?
BROCK LESNAR: No, you know, I thought, if this thing is going to take advantage of me, I wanted to figure out what was wrong with me so I could beat it. When you’re laying there, after the fact, you start thinking about your family, and your friends. It wasn’t until afterwards when you’re thinking ‘Man — I really could have died from this stuff,’ when the dust settles, and you start thinking about it.
And on the other side of things, on the business side, there’s a lot invested in you, or a lot of value to you from the UFC. What was their attitude back then and recently, right now [when you pulled out of the Junior dos Santos fight]?
The first thing that came out of Dana White’s mouth was concern for my health. He said, “Don’t even worry about the fight. Let’s get your health taken care of.” That goes to show a lot about the company, and about the person that Dana White is.
Josh Barnett once told me ‘We have a pro wrestling system for MMA.’ But I kind of believe it’s a star system; I believe this based on the estimated pay-per-view buys which suggest — which we both know — you’re the number one draw in the organization by far. Going into the millions of pay-per-view buys where Georges St-Pierre can maybe do 800,000 or 900,000. How do you feel about being the number one guy?
Well, I don’t feel any different other than I’m glad to be in that spot, that opportunity; it’s a lucrative spot to be in, and at the end of the day, I hope that I can get back in the Octagon to keep trying to pursue those numbers.
You’ve got these great numbers. There’s a lot of respect for you. You probably get a lot of great things contractually that most guys could never even dream of getting — no matter how successful they are, because on top of this, you were in the WWE, which is a great public relations machine itself. You were a star there, and came into the UFC, and became a bigger star than any UFC fighter could possibly become. Are you grateful to pro wrestling — or your own hard work and athleticism — for making you what you are?
Absolutely. I’m not stupid — without the WWE, the WWE made me a household name and increased my value tenfold before I even pursued the UFC. Could I be where I am today without the WWE? Probably not. Could I be drawing the same numbers that I’m drawing? Probably not. I brought a lot of fans over, a lot of crossover fans that I brought, just from the general public and WWE fans, I believe.
Do you believe that the real growth, in terms of pure numbers in MMA, is actually attributed directly to superstars like yourself, and a couple other guys…who are the household names who do these kinds of numbers?
I have to believe that just the growth of the sport in general — with anything — the more visibility they could gain, the bigger the audience is going to be, obviously. The UFC is doing all the right things to make this a mainstream sport, and if I can contribute to that, I’m glad for it and at the end of the day, it becomes more lucrative for other fighters, and myself, and the UFC, and we can still put out a great product that entertains people, and everybody is happy.
An ESPN Magazine estimate recently pegged your annual salary — probably from [fight] purses alone — at 5.3 million dollars. Is that hotter or colder, or can you not disclose that?
I’ve got no comment. No comment for that.
How do you feel your salary compares to someone like Manny Pacquiao — and again, we say MMA is a pro wrestling model — but he’s said to clear $32 million in the same survey.
Don’t believe everything you read.
I don’t necessarily believe everything that I read, but especially for the lower guys, like one of your opponents Shane Carwin — his guaranteed purse for his fight against you was $50,000; in boxing, it’s usually 25 percent of the purse bid that goes to the [title] challenger. I believe you’re doing pretty well, because you definitely have all the leverage over the UFC, but the guys who don’t have any kind of power aren’t really given the best kind of deal.
I don’t know for sure, I really don’t. I’m only concerned about one person, and that’s myself. I have no idea — I don’t read anything, I don’t pay attention. At the end of the day, I just want to fight and win fights and this is prizefighting for me, and winning fights, you win prizes.
I totally understand. You’re an individual and your own hard work got you to where you are. But have you ever thought about the next generation that’s coming up — they’re going to be kids [who] might look for some advice or some guidance to navigate the system.
I think the youth that want to enter this arena, it’s a good opportunity for learning disciplines and I think you’re going to see as the years go on, better fighters, because they’re learning all these new disciplines at a younger age, and it’s really becoming second nature to them. But as far as the business side of things, this is a capitalistic world we live in and if they can learn to save their money, they should provide a good living for themselves.
Is there anything else that you wanted to say on the subject of your book, or your life, or what you’re going to do next?
Hopefully, people go out and read this book [Death Clutch]. And right now, I’m just focused on my health, and trying to get better, and trying to get into the Octagon.
(Brock Lesnar interview Part One of Two)