LAS VEGAS — Brock Lesnar retired from mixed martial arts after Alistair Overeem stopped him with one vicious kick to the body at 2:26 of the first round in their heavyweight bout at UFC 141 on Friday night.
Lesnar is the UFC's biggest pay-per-view star and the former heavyweight champion, but his return from a 14-month injury absence ended with Lesnar staggering and crumpling against the cage. He couldn't recover from a kick from Overeem (36-11), the 6-foot-5 Dutch kickboxing star making his UFC debut.
Lesnar (5-3) is a former NCAA champion wrestler and pro-wrestling star who rose swiftly to the top of MMA. But he has fought just three times in the past 21/2 years while dealing with bouts of diverticulitis, a lower-intestinal ailment that nearly killed him.
"I've had a really difficult couple of years with my disease, and I'm going to officially say tonight is the last time," Lesnar said. "This is the last time you'll see me in the octagon."
The 34-year-old Lesnar's announcement stunned fans who realized he faced a difficult matchup in the UFC's traditional end-of-the-year event in its hometown. The matchup was a classic MMA clash of styles, with Lesnar's brutal wrestling contrasting sharply with Overeem's vicious striking.
Overeem is three years younger but much more experienced than Lesnar, hurting the former champion at least twice earlier in the round with knees to the stomach while Lesnar failed in his attempts at takedowns.
"I promised my wife and my kids if I won this fight, I would get a title shot, and that would be my last fight," Lesnar said. "But if I lost tonight … you've been great."
Overeem will get the next shot at UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos, who watched from a seat near the octagon.
Overeem is a champion kick boxer who has fought in multiple promotions over the past decade, winning titles in Dream and Strikeforce with nearly unbeatable striking and size. He joined the UFC in September, finally presenting his formidable skills and intimidating physique to the sport's largest audience.