While the MMA world has known about Brock Lesnar's struggle with various mystery ailments for several months now, few specifics made their way to the public.
Today, following an appearance on ESPN's "SportsCenter" in which he professed a clean bill of health, Lesnar opened a bit more about his harrowing experience and road back to recovery.
"Everybody has life-changing experiences, and this is one of them for me," Lesnar said on a media call this afternoon. "I believe everything happens for a reason."
Lesnar said what happened to him was a slow-developing illness.
"I had been suffering for almost a year with something I didn't really know what it was," Lesnar said. "I had some stomach pains here and here and some flu-like symptoms throughout the year. Actually, during the training camp against Shane Carwin is when everything just kind of snow-balled. That's when I realized.
"I was missing full weeks of my training camp because I just couldn't perform in my camp. That's when I decide four weeks out to give [UFC officials] hopefully enough notice to say – hey, listen, the last thing I wanted to do was to come in and give a bad performance and risk losing my title. That's when it really all accumulated."
The preliminary issues led to the delay and, ultimately, cancellation of Lesnar's scheduled bout with Carwin. It was then the severity of Lesnar's condition began to become a real concern to himself, the UFC, and MMA fans and observers.
Lesnar received a series of diagnoses that ran from swine flue to mononucleosis. Not satisfied with the opinions, Lesnar elected to take time off at his property in Canada. It was there the situation took a turn for the worse.
Despite previous reports that his intestines were leaking, Lesnar claimed that was not exactly the case, though the problem was severe enough to encourage the heavyweight to seek professional advice.
"It was not leaking," Lesnar said. "If it had been, it would have protruded. But my abscesses were so large that my body was infected. What happened is that my body couldn't gain all the nutrients that it needed. I couldn't eat enough food to gain enough energy.
"This stuff just doesn't come overnight. I've had it for awhile, so my stomach isn't doing the job it needs to do. Finally, it just exploded on me, and that's what put me in the hospital."
Unfortunately from Lesnar's perspective, the hospital he was in fell under the Canadian care system. On today's call, Lesnar spoke candidly on his opinions of that experience.
"Probably the low point was getting health care from Canada," Lesnar said. "Not to get into the political side of things, but our health-care system is a little radical, but we've got the best doctors, I believe, in the world here (in the U.S.). Our system does need some restructuring, but I don't believe a total reform is the answer.
"The only reason I'm mentioning this is – I'm mentioning this to the United States of America, because President Obama is pushing this health-care reform, and obviously I don't want it. I'm a conservative Republican. ... I'm speaking on behalf of Americans. I'm speaking on behalf of our doctors in the U.S. that don't want this to happen, and neither do I."
High-speed escapes and rapid recoveries
Save for a little political grandstanding, Lesnar went on to explain he harbored no ill will toward the people or country of Canada. He simply prefers his medical care take place in his native land.
"I love Canada," Lesnar said. "I own property in Canada. But if I had to choose between getting care in Canada or in the U.S., I definitely want to be in the U.S. Canadians, don't get me wrong here. Listen, I love Canada. Some of the best people and best hunting in the world. I have family up there. But I wasn't at the right facility.
"They couldn't do nothing for me. It was like I was in a third-world country. I just looked at my wife, and she changed my life, and I had to get out of there."
Lesnar and his wife did leave the facility, and the champion said his spouse drove him "100 miles per hour" back to Medcenter One in Bismarck, N.D.
Once under Medcenter One's care, Lesnar had what he classified as a "small procedure" done.
"They stuck a six-inch needle through my stomach and drained three pockets and removed 14 cc's of fluid out of my stomach," Lesnar said. "The next morning I was able to eat, and that's when I decided I had enough of the hospital and proceeded to go home."
Lesnar said he dropped all the way down to 248 pounds during the process (a mark he joked he hadn't seen since the second grade), but he was currently up around 273 pounds as he prepared to begin his mini-camp. And the culprit for his near-career-ending ailment? A poor diet.
"What got me here was a total protein diet, not enough fiber, and that's where I was," Lesnar said. "I totally changed my diet, got on some natural healing medicine, and was just doing a lot of praying. I had a lot of people praying for me.
"I'm a carnivore. I'm not a big fan of PETA. I'm a member of the NRA, and whatever I kill, I eat. Basically, I was just for years surviving on meat and potatoes. When the greens came by, I just kept passing them."
That will change going forward, and Lesnar said he's going to be certain not to repeat the mistakes of his past.
"It's now a part of my life. When I'm at home, which I'm there a lot, I have total control of my diet. When I'm on the road, it's kind of a little more harder to do. But it's just making sure I have a well-balanced diet.
"Why would I go back to my old ways? I don't want to be back in that position ever again. I'm doing change for the better, not for the worse."
And while Lesnar's life as a multi-millionaire, professional athlete, and mixed martial arts champion may be difficult for most people to relate to, he did have a message that could ring true with many citizens – both American and Canadian.
"[The experience] gave me a different perspective on life and my family," Lesnar said. "I'm a young guy. These things aren't supposed to happen. I consider myself a healthy human being. I'm 32 years old, and for something like this to happen to me, I definitely have to re-evaluate.
"When you think you're doing all the right things, and then all of a sudden something like this happens, obviously you're not. I have to make some changes."