Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Thursday, May 12, 2011 | 4:55 p.m.
Updated Thursday, May 12, 2011 | 4:56 p.m.
Former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar became the latest UFC headliner to pull out of an announced main event bout Thursday afternoon.
In the same week UFC postponed a lightweight championship fight between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard scheduled for UFC 130, Lesnar announced via a conference call that he’s been forced to cancel his upcoming fight against Junior dos Santos at UFC 131 on June 11 in Vancouver.
Lesnar is again suffering from diverticulitis, a severe intestinal disease that threatened his life two years ago.
“It’s not as serious as last time,” Lesnar said. “It just didn’t allow me to train the way I needed to train for a No. 1 contenders bout. I’m fighting a different fight.”
With Lesnar out, former interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin will fill in to face dos Santos at UFC 131. Carwin was supposed to be featured in the card’s co-main event against UFC newcomer Jon Olav Einemo before Lesnar’s injury. A replacement opponent for Einemo was not immediately available.
Even without Lesnar, the UFC 131 main event will maintain its status as a matchup to determine the top heavyweight contender. The winner of dos Santos vs. Carwin will face Cain Velasquez for the championship later this year when he returns from a shoulder injury.
“The person that I am doesn’t want to back down from a fight,” Lesnar said. “But let me tell you: My health and my family are more important than stepping in the octagon for I don’t care how much money.”
Lesnar said he began feeling symptoms of the disease three weeks ago, but quickly got on antibiotics that were supposed to suppress the issue. As his training camp stretched on, he started to feel worse.
Lesnar would feel so exhausted on some occasions that he’d skip workouts to conserve energy for the next day. Then, he said, he tried to come back and couldn’t make it through his normal routine.
After conferring with UFC President Dana White, Lesnar checked into the Mayo Clinic Wednesday where doctors told him the extent to which the diverticulitis had returned. Lesnar will now have to decide whether to undergo surgery or try to combat the problem naturally.
“He’s got some serious choices to make in the next couple weeks,” White said.
When doctors first diagnosed Lesnar with diverticulitis in September 2009, which forced him to miss a title fight against Carwin, he opted to not take the surgery and made changes to his diet to manage the disease.
Lesnar offered no indication on which way he was leaning this time around, but repeatedly insisted that he expected to fight again.
“I’m not retiring,” Lesnar said. “This isn’t the end of my fight career. This is something I believe and have a strong faith that there’s a solution for every problem. This isn’t the end of Brock Lesnar.”
Lesnar revealed that he never felt fully recovered from his first stint with the disease. He said he was only 85-to-90 percent healthy when he defeated Carwin at UFC 116 to defend his belt and pushed himself “to another limit” in a UFC 121 loss to Velasquez.
Carwin responded to the news through a blog post on his website. He wished Lesnar the best and wrote he’d like to fight him again someday, but was also looking forward to the opportunity he received.
“Junior is a serious fight and not the type of fight that you would normally take on 30-day notice,” Carwin wrote, “but I have a dream to chase and I do not have a lot of time to chase it. This is an opportunity to put myself in contention for a title.”
Lesnar said he was “depressed” about having to pull out of the bout. White said he told Lesnar there were more important issues at stake than appearing in an announced contest. It was advice that Lesnar apparently took to heart.
“It wouldn’t be fair to myself or my family or the people I have to get into the octagon and perform in front of,” Lesnar said. “I wouldn’t have been 100 percent on June 11 because I’m not there now.”