University alumnus Brock Lesnar to return to UFC after recent illness

Lesnar fell ill while training for a November fight against Shane Carwin.

Michael Rietmulder

Current Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar appeared on ESPN on Wednesday morning, flanked by UFC president Dana White, to announce that he will make his return to the sport after a serious illness nearly ended his career. White said the former University of Minnesota wrestler will defend his title sometime this summer against the winner of a bout between Shane Carwin and Frank Mir, which is scheduled for March 27. Last October, Lesnar fell ill while training for a November fight against Carwin. After the illness caused Lesnar to miss nearly three weeks of training, he knew he could not continue with the scheduled bout. Lesnar was initially diagnosed with Mononucleosis, a diagnosis he did not agree with. After the fight was canceled, Lesnar took a hunting trip to Canada. During the trip, Lesnar said he was feeling ill and having intense stomach pains. âÄúOne night I woke up and I was in severe shock. I had a 104 temperature and felt like I was shot in the guts,âÄù Lesnar told ESPNâÄôs Josh Elliott. Lesnar returned to see a doctor in Bismarck, N.D., who discovered Lesnar had a perforated intestine, a condition known as diverticulitis. The former NCAA champion was initially put on antibiotics and pain medications rather than removing part of his colon, which Lesnar said would âÄúpretty much end my career.âÄù He spent 11 days in the hospital without food or water and lost 40 pounds. He later traveled to the Mayo Clinic to seek a second opinion, where doctors also recommend surgery. When Lesnar went in for a checkup Jan. 5, doctors told him they could not find signs of any problem in his stomach, much to his disbelief. âÄúI actually had to go back to the doctor yesterday before I came out here [Las Vegas] and get another CT scan on my stomach because I still canâÄôt believe it,âÄù Lesnar said. When asked if there were any health concerns with making his return to the octagon, Lesnar confidently responded, âÄúNo not at all. IâÄôve had three or four different opinions. IâÄôve had colonoscopies done and CT scans. ThereâÄôs literally no sign of anything being in there.âÄù Konrad preps for MMA bout While Lesnar appears poised to resume his career in mixed martial arts, another former University of Minnesota wrestler is set to begin his. Cole Konrad, a two-time NCAA champion at the University, is scheduled to have his first fight Saturday in Fargo against Gary âÄúChiefâÄù Hamen. Konrad has been training for two years at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy and with Lesnar and former University assistant wrestling coach Marty Morgan at LesnarâÄôs private facility in Alexandria, Minn. Those working with him believe his transition into a new sport will be smooth. âÄúHe transfers over very well. He picks up the striking game very quickly,âÄù said Morgan, who is working as KonradâÄôs trainer. According to Morgan, there are three areas of MMA fighting: stand up, submission and wrestling. Morgan says the wrestling skills Konrad honed at the University give him a solid foundation. While technically not a coach, Konrad is currently a part-time member of head coach J RobinsonâÄôs wrestling staff. According to head assistant coach Joe Russell, Konrad is regularly around the team as an alumnus and staff member. Prior to chasing an MMA career, Konrad had NFL aspirations, trying out with the New York Jets in 2007 and the Minnesota Vikings last spring as an offensive lineman. Konrad, who had not played football since his freshman year of high school, failed to make either squad, though Russell believes he would have been successful had teams given him a chance to develop. NFL shortcomings aside, Morgan said he expects Konrad to be a formidable opponent heading into SaturdayâÄôs fight. âÄúColeâÄôs always been able to compete with confidence. HeâÄôs well-conditioned, heâÄôs smart and his intensity level is pretty high just from the level of competition heâÄôs been at before,âÄù Morgan said. UFC fighter Chris Tuchscherer, who has trained alongside Konrad, said his size will make him difficult for opponents to handle. âÄúHeâÄôs a 285-pound guy, but he feels like 350 pounds,âÄù Tuchscherer said.