“You wanna do it?” Those four words set into motion a nearly four-year-long saga that ended with a former MMA fighter receiving the greatest honor possible in professional wrestling. The quote came from WWE superstar The Undertaker in an interview with Ariel Helwani at UFC 121 in 2010. Taker wasn’t directing those words at Helwani. He was gesturing towards a battered Lesnar as Lesnar was leaving the cage just moments after losing the UFC heavyweight title to Cain Velasquez. Lesnar did not respond, but the rumors began to run rampant on pro wrestling and mixed martial arts websites alike. As the story goes, The Undertaker and the WWE wanted Lesnar to return to the promotion to face Taker at the biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania.

Had it happened then, Lesnar and The Undertaker likely would have headlined Wrestlemania 27 in Atlanta. It didn’t work out, though, and both men went down different paths. But everything came full circle when Lesnar stepped into the ring with The Undertaker this past Sunday at Wrestlemania 30 in New Orleans.

After that night in October 2010, Lesnar ended up staying with the UFC. He coached a season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite of future heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. A second battle with diverticulitis, a recurring medical issue for Lesnar, forced the big man to pull out of his fight with dos Santos. After a returning loss to Alistair Overeem, Lesnar announced he was retiring from MMA competition.

That really kicked open the door for a return by Lesnar to the WWE. Lesnar made that long-awaited return to the world of pro wrestling the night after Wrestlemania 28, where The Undertaker had just defeated Triple H for the second straight year. Lesnar and The Undertaker did not cross paths right away. Lesnar entered into a feud with WWE mainstay John Cena and The Undertaker went on his traditional post-Wrestlemania hiatus (over the past few years he had only performed at Wrestlemania). Even at last year’s Wrestlemania, Lesnar and Taker didn’t clash. Lesnar faced the now company COO, Triple H, and Taker faced CM Punk, another pro wrestler who has been linked to MMA.

It seemed like the showdown was inevitable, though. And it was. WWE was just saving it for the biggest event of all time, Wrestlemania 30.

The match had been rumored throughout all of last year and was made official in late February. Many wrestling fans and pundits criticized the lead-up and storyline going into the match, calling it lazy and nonsensical. That, combined with the fact that Lesnar is only a part-time performer in the WWE, made absolutely anyone who knew anything about wrestling predict that The Undertaker would win the match and extend his Wrestlemania winning streak to 22.

Then, the unthinkable happened. After a third F-5 (Lesnar’s finishing move), the referee counted one, two…three. The arena went dead silent. Fans didn’t know what to do. Their faces told the story (do a Google search for “The Streak Guy”). Just like that, Lesnar was involved in the most shocking moment in the history of professional wrestling, but he also became the most infamous man in the history of the industry.

Many fans will say, “What’s the big deal? He beat a 50-year-old man in a predetermined match.” It’s a lot more than that. In most sports, becoming champion is the ultimate honor that any athlete could ever achieve. That is generally the case in the world of pro wrestling as well, but over the years The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania had taken on a life of its own. The Undertaker had won 21 straight matches at the Super Bowl of pro wrestling. Many never wanted to see that streak end, but everyone knew that if Taker ever decided that he was going to drop the streak, the man that he dropped it to would become one of the biggest names in the history of the business. Just as in any sport, there are new champions every year, and even more often in pro wrestling. But there will only be one man who can ever stake the claim to ending The Undertaker’s winning streak. The only thing I could even equate it to in MMA is Chris Weidman ending Anderson Silva’s long reign as middleweight champion. Granted, Weidman took that title, whereas it was given to Lesnar, but don’t think that Lesnar’s past in MMA had nothing to do with what happened on Sunday night.

Sure, Lesnar stepped foot inside of a WWE ring before he ever stepped inside the UFC Octagon, but both sports contributed to his star status. The fact that he was a recognizable name from the world of pro wrestling opened the door to big fights right away in the UFC, but his skills in the cage made him one of the biggest draws in UFC history. When Lesnar made his return to pro wrestling in 2012, he was more of a star than when he left. At first, Lesnar was just billed as a mixed martial arts champion, but more and more, and especially in the lead-up to his match with The Undertaker, he was referred to as the only man to ever hold both the WWE and UFC heavyweight championships.

Make no bones about it, The Undertaker hand-picked Lesnar for this passing of the torch. The Undertaker has made it no secret that he is an UFC fan. He incorporated MMA moves into his wrestling and was seen numerous times cageside at UFC events. The Undertaker worked with Lesnar back in Lesnar’s first run with the WWE in 2002 and 2003, but I firmly believe that Lesnar’s success inside the Octagon garnered even more respect from The Undertaker, to the point where Taker chose him to end the streak.

MMA fans should be proud that one of our guys was just given the biggest honor that a professional wrestler could ever receive. Some might even think that since he can’t accomplish anything bigger in the WWE, that this might lead to Lesnar making a return to the UFC. The exact opposite is the case. Lesnar is now beyond a shadow of a doubt the biggest star in the WWE. The WWE now has to do everything that it can to capitalize and make money off of Lesnar. The promotion can’t do that if he returns to the UFC. The WWE simply can’t take the risk that Lesnar loses in a real fight.

Lesnar will now be booked as an invincible athlete who was able to conquer the impossible. His star status might be bigger than ever if Lesnar returned to the UFC now, but Taker wouldn’t have put over someone who wasn’t going to make a long-term difference in the WWE. Lesnar’s win probably put the final nail in the coffin of The Undertaker’s WWE career. At the same time, it probably put the final nail in the coffin of a possible return of Lesnar to the UFC.

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.