Dana White Explains Why the UFC Signed CM Punk, and It’s Not a Good Explanation

December 20, 2014
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During the UFC 181: Hendricks vs. Lawler II pay-per-view broadcast on Dec. 6, the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced that it had signed former professional wrestler Phil “CM Punk” Brooks to a multi-fight contract.

The announcement that the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in the world signed a 36-year-old without any fighting experience has been met with both praise and criticism.

SEE ALSO: Dana White Explains Why the UFC Signed CM Punk

CM Punk at UFC 181“The feedback has been both – it’s mixed. Some people love it, some people hate it,” UFC president Dana White said during this week’s edition of The Download. “The people who are opposed to it and bitching about it, I get it. Every fight that we do isn’t going to be everybody’s thing, but there will be people who want to watch him and those that don’t.”

Those who like the signing of Brooks cite his popularity while with the WWE, the attention he’ll generate and the revenue potential he’ll bring. He moves the needle, as promoters like to say.

The critics of the signing assert that anyone without professional fighting experience has no business on the sport’s biggest stage. They characterize the move as a publicity stunt that ultimately casts a poor light on the sport.

White doesn’t disagree with the critics, and said he’s simply giving Brooks the opportunity to live out a dream.

SEE ALSO: Straight Edge Savior? CM Punk, Legitimacy and a UFC Dream

“He and I have become friends and he told me, ‘I’ve achieved some cool things in my life and I want to try the UFC. It’s not like I’m young enough to fight my way up in the smaller leagues. I’d like to come in and give it a shot and see what I got,’” White said.

The signing of “CM Punk” has already paid off with endless headlines and public appearances by the UFC’s newest roster member.  Financially, the organization may have just hit a home run.  But White’s explanation of why he was signed screams nepotism.

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  • bill

    Dana White being the self proclaimed nice guy again. Giving a man a chance at his dreams. haha. Its a total money grab. He forced liddell out after a couple knockout loses, yet he lets his “friend” cm punk in with 12+ concussions and 0 amateur experience or any notable mma skills. Ill watch out of morbid curiousity and i have nothing against cm punk but lets call it how it really is.

    • taylor2008

      I agree with you.

  • taylor2008

    who is praising this move? its all a stunt to get certain people to watch instead of bringing in good fighters. I hope punk gets punked in his first fight. you do NOT let a guy fight in the UFC with no fighting experience.


    If the guy wants to fight and he will bring in PPV buys, I say let him fight

  • Thomas

    I dont know anything about fighting either. I sure wish Dana and I were friends so I could get a paycheck from the UFC…


    Ufc is in decline & this is pure desperation on their behalf, it’s becoming a joke organization

    • Gary Fredericks

      UFC tried to go global too fast all at once which created cards thin on talent with no recourse for injured fighters bailing on late notice from their fights. I been a huge fan since UFC 1 and the last couple years have been the worst in match making and fights aside a few good ones from time to time.

  • Rick M

    Quite frankly, Dana wouldn’t be doing his job as a promoter had he simply let Belator snatch Brooks up, and you know they would have tried especially with Viacom’s backing. Regardless of how people feel though, it’s going to be successful business wise, and at the end of the day the UFC is still that, a business.

    • Gary Fredericks

      That’s a good post and what most here fail to realize….it was more to keep him from Bellator….a wise business decision.

  • michaelchimique

    this goes beyond friendship, with the news the ufc suffered like a 40% loss this year you know they did this because this is a way for them to heavily rebound from something like that because people will fork up the money to see whether or not punk can really fight. this is strictly a business signing anyone who views it differently need to evaluate themselves.

  • Timothy Malone

    Guys this is good because it brings more viewers. Also, maybe it would increase ratings a bit to maybe have a kind of rivalry written out with Punk and another figher. Maybe give them some lines backstage. Then even during the match maybe the ref can get involved or even one of the corners and maybe some props from outside the cage. It’s all good for the sport if it brings more ratings right?

    This is how it begins.

  • Intelligent Hoodlum

    So…all I have to do is be Dana’s friend to get into the UFC?

    • DamianCross

      Unironically? Yes.

    • Sam Cammarata

      Good luck becoming his friend

  • Mike MacLellan

    I’m pretty sure its favouritism, not nepotism.

    • louis


      Can’t believe they said nepotism…

  • Tom Oosterbroek

    I don’t like how people have no problem with this, just because the ufc is a business.

    Sure it is, and I get the decision business wise What I do not like is the fact that the UFC has completely burned any claim to promoting a ‘sport’ and the claim that the UFC is home to the upper echelon of fighters.

    I get it, it’s because of the $$$, but that still does not make the move anything other than favouritism.

    • carsti07 .

      Yeah maybe, but everybody knows there is no Pride anymore because there was not enough $$$ ! So $$$ is needed the most to deliver fans what they want to see. So I don’t get all this negativity. If he fails it was stupid but what if he performs good?

    • HooahJuice

      Stop watching the UFC. Go watch Bellator and see how happy you are. UFC resigned Rampage…are you outraged by that? He is a WWE star.

      • Tom Oosterbroek

        What? What are you trying to say? Why should I stop watching the UFC?

    • I guess this is a way to attract those dim types who think fake wrestling is real.
      Just look at the retarded comments above…lol

  • John Youwer

    This is just another reason why the UFC is going down the toilet in ratings. Used to love the UFC, but now I just read about it. Sure as hell wont give Dickhead Dana white anymore of my money. The UFC is slowing becoming a Joke. Dana White helped put MMA on the map and made it what it is today. But he is now destroying it slowly but surely. Time to get rid of him he thinks he is the God of MMA. And the CM Punk thing is just a joke, the guy is a freakin idiot.

    • lcfcsr

      Whatever your argument about Punk signing, you can’t seriously argue that Punk signing is “another reason UFC ratings are going down the toilet”, and the proof will be when ratings shoot through the roof when he has his first fight!

      • Guest

        So ufc is gonna pay this guy big bucks while other fighters who’ve busted their tails off get crappy pay. Hm very logical!

        • lcfcsr

          How good a fighter you are is a subjective opinion, and you can’t pay people based on that, you pay people based on how big a draw they are and how much money they will make for UFC, and like it or not Punk will make more money in the period of time he’s here for UFC than pretty much anyone else! Besides, do you actually know he’s getting paid loads more than everyone? I agree it’s likely, but I’m guessing you’ve not seen a copy of his contract now have you?

  • IamAman

    This is the reason i’ma start streaming everything for free xD

  • Sam Cammarata

    What if cm punk wins his first fight? Are we still going to bitch about this?

    • Hansa

      Most probably they would feed him a “fish” or a very young inexperienced fighter. Give him Bisping or Tim Kennedy then we will be talking…@s#whopping..

  • jokes

    Bobby Lashley ?

    Kimbo at least went on the ultimate fighter. Dana couldn’t sign Fedor but thinks this guy deserves to progress the sport. First selling out to Reebok, now this. UFC is honestly gone to the birds

  • lcfcsr

    It’s an absolute no brainer for UFC, he’s going to make a lot of money and bring in a huge amount of new interest into UFC, they couldn’t not sign him for me! There’s plenty of room for special attraction fights like this, it generates money and interest for UFC, and this in itself doesn’t lose the UFC any credibility in my opinion. Where they do lose credibility is when they refuse to sign some of the best and most credible fighters in the world, which they have done, but there is no reason why there isn’t room for both!

  • sintheticreality2

    I don’t see a problem with it. It’s not like the guy is going to be fighting for a title or anything. If anything, Dana is throwing the guy a bone because he’s a personal friend. Keep him on the prelims, though. He hasn’t earned main card rights and probably never will.

    • rob

      Why does the status of Danas personal friend warrant a UFC run?

      • sintheticreality2


  • Mattius Wight

    Just throwing money at a celebrity instead of paying the fighters what they deserve.

    • jesoos

      Exactly. The UFC does not have the money to pay it´s professional fighters. But they have the money to pay an actor…

      If you can afford CM Punk, you can afford paying the real fighters enough money that they may be able to support themselves.

  • name

    You guys do know he actually was trained in mixed martial arts in japan right

    • JdPat04

      Not only in Japan

  • William Bowles

    This would be solved if they simply wouldnt Pay CM a ridiculous paycheck on his first outing, regardless of the money generated…
    He deserves a shot at MMA, he does Not deserve a giant payday on his first Contest ~

  • Enough Said


  • Frankie4Fingers1983

    Something that the ppl that are mad about this have to realize is, the ufc isn’t about the fights, the fighters or the fans. It’s about selling fights and that’s it. If it were able fighting, then guys like Fitch, okami and shields -while boring to some- wouldn’t have been cut and someone like Askren would have been signed. Further more, they wouldn’t have continued to let guys that were clearly past their primes like Liddell and Penn fight and take unnecessary punishment for ppv buys. Chael sonnen wouldn’t have talked his way into title fights, Brock Lesner wouldn’t have gotten a title fight after going 1-1, McGregor wouldn’t be on the verge of a title fight with one top 10 win and James Tony wouldn’t have gotten a fight.

    Ufc is about selling their brand and selling fights. When you realize that, then this signing makes sense. He will bring in new fans, he will generate media buzz, his first fight will sell ppvs and if he wins his second fight will sell more. The ufc have lost their biggest draws to retirement or injury and they need someone to sell to fans and sorry but Ronda doesn’t…. If she did, she would be headlining ppvs right. Anyhow, this isn’t exactly shocking.

    As for CM Punk, well he has created for himself and fame that allows him to cut in to the front of the line. He is a guy that wants to prove something to himself -if you believe him- and is using his fame and influence to do so, this is also something that isn’t new in the ufc of the world for that matter. I know people are pissed that he has a 0-0 record, but who cares. Look at amir sadollah, he went into the tuff house with that record and let’s not pretend that those guys were anything but amateur fighters themselves. So if a guy like that can win an amateur reality show to get a ufc contract and there isn’t a problem, why is there one here? If they put him on a title fight after one win, then okay there is a massive problem, but at this point we don’t even know who he is fighting.

    As I said, people shouldn’t be surprised and those people that are up in arms about this need to show down and see what happens.

    I really think some fans are afraid that if Punk comes in and wins it will make mma look like a joke, but it wouldn’t. There are a lot of part time fighters in the ufc already. It’s not one of those sports that you have to start doing at 5 years old to even have a shot at going pro in. Punk winning wouldn’t destroy the integrity of mma, so if some of you are worried about that, you don’t have to be.

    Anyhow, sorry for the long post 🙁

    • Tch1973

      Well said! People should really just take a chill pill n look at it for the entertainment value! Give him a crack at it n see if he doesn’t get his head bashed in! I’m a Punk fan so I’ll be watching! Win or lose , it’ll be a great to watch!

    • Simon

      That would be pretty acceptable if the UFC didn’t PRETEND it’s about fights and fighters, which is the bullshit Dana likes to spew, or his “we don’t put on freak show fights” claims or that they’re a legitimate sport or they hold any respect over any other organization for any reason other than, they make more money. I like the Expendables because it’s a dumb mindless action movie, but no one tried selling it to me as Citizen Kane, know what I mean?

  • Spike

    So this is how the minds of Punk fans and critics work …

  • Joe

    Build a solid card with fighters that are always exciting for his debut, put him early on the main ppv card. The prelims don’t get wrestling fans to buy the ppv. Gain new fans that buy future ppv’s and boost TV ratings. This generates more money, that allows fighters to make more money. UFC knows this and the times they have done this in the past allowed them to become the MMA organization that pays fighters more than any other promotion.

  • Signing CM to the UFC deflated credibility.
    Dana can’t explain away this.

    • HooahJuice

      He can sign whoever he wants. You can go watch Bellator or Invictus. No one forces you to watch UFC.

      • It’s not about who I watch or enjoy.
        This was a silly move to sign a fake wrestler with no MMA fights. Stop sniveling…

        • TheCerealKiller

          I totally agree with you, but what if he did come out and completely destroy someone?

          • haha – I be thrilled to eat crow!

        • rico

          I think its a great idea bringing someone with no background, that has the star quality of a top 10 fighter and fans to boot. Regardless of his mma credentials the dude is an athlete and trains full time like any other. We will know how good he is by the 3rd fight if he gets past the first two. Its not as if he’s getting a title shot!
          Take Matt Mitrione he was a footballer, kimbo slice a youtube thug and half the roster former college wrestlers!! At the end of the day fighting is an ability you either have it or you don’t ..others sports are skills. I reckon a year of training i’d beat someone in one of the lesser professional organisations!!! Boxing you can create a paper champ, mma you cant (sink or sail baby)

          • Burt Hollobaugh

            Is Punk really that great of an athlete though? He has no amateur background in any sport. I watch wrestling and he has great matches and was one of the best workers of a match, but that doesn’t necessarily make him an elite athlete. Speed, strength, agility, etc I just don’t see Punk having much of it, certainly not to the level of a pro level athlete in a team sport. So, I can’t imagine him being close to the best athlete on the UFC roster, and he certainly doesn’t have the MMA experience either (although he has some ju-jitsu training I guess). So I just don’t see it working out too well for him.

        • Burt Hollobaugh

          Does it really diminish it, or just give you more confirmation on what it really is?

          Even in real sports like MMA and boxing, the ability to draw people to the arena is more important than actual skill or preserving the legacy of the sport or anything like that.

          It might not be right, but all these promoters care about is putting asses in the seats or selling you a PPV. They aren’t interested in the integrity of the sport, or if they are it is of a secondary concern.

          Now, if you lose too often or look like complete crap then you will eventually quit becoming a draw. If Punk loses and looks like shit he will eventually be out of the UFC because nobody will pay for his fights any more.

          But for the time being, while there is an unknown factor about him, he is going to be a fairly big draw for the company (although they may be overrating Punk’s ability to draw, we shall see).

        • HooahJuice

          Same was said about Brock Lesnar…Heath Herring getting punched int he face must have been fake.

          • Brock had a fight outside the UFC at age 30, then lost his first UFC bout but fought his way back to the top.
            You can’t compare that to a guy pushing age 40 who’s never fought.
            I doubt he ever even steps in that cage.

          • HooahJuice

            I think we should just wait and see.

          • KRISTYAHN

            FYI: Brock had world class NCAA wrestling to his resume, pretty much the best base to start MMA, not to mention his athlelic ability for a guy who weighed 265+lbs and then his size. CM Punk/Phil Brooks has nothing remotely close to what Brock had when Brock signed. Even that world champ boxing retard Randy Couture embarassed had some cred, he was a boxing world champion. What does Phil have, WWE experience, well that’s all well and good, but last time I checked, there were no chairs allowed in the Octagon & there’s no script in the UFC… to our knowledge!

  • Seth

    Most funny thing is that all the “haters” of this idea which comes here to comment how bad and stupid that was…well…guess what, you are doing exactly what UFC/MMA Media wants you to. You CARE. You care enough to click on the article and leave a comment. That’s all there is to it. If you wouldn’t care – you wouldn’t come here and post your comments.

    Since they announced it we all know that is only about money and potential revenue Punk may bring. Why people are looking for any other reasons? They didn’t sign him because he is great MMA fighter. They didn’t sign him because he beat some big names outside the UFC.

    They signed him for money. He came to them and ask about it and they just want to use that chance to get more views. That’s nothing new with UFC, they always try to use every outlet and every way to generate more buzz around them. But of course, internet keyboard warriors are all set for championship rounds to “prove” that this was “bad” move…

    • Guest


  • jesoos

    No one loves the signing of CM Punk from an MMA standpoint. The only love for this fight is for it´s freak show aspect.

  • SexyHyde

    I’m OK with CM Punk. I know he hasn’t earned it but it’s loads of extra ‘buys’ which means more money for fighters in locker room bonuses. It should also be entertaining as half of the ‘ranked’ fights end up being boring as hell.

  • Kurdo

    The way I look at it, I think Dana signed CM Punk only because to spread the UFC more attention/viewers and more interesting like Brock Lesnar era to make the company popular (MONEY), but also to get fighters in middle weight/or light heavyweight more attention as well.

  • pewpewdie

    Regardless, everyone is gonna watch this fight, either to see if he’s legit or to see him get his head kicked in. I’m leaning towards the latter.

  • Chris Puuohau

    What if he wins ?? What if he fights a decent fighter lets say ufc signs THE green ranger.. lol i kno but dudes got a gd record for an amateur.. anyway what if punk destroys whoever he fights then what r people gnna say.. remember he has no background but we honestly dnt kno if punk can really fight.. he teains in jui jitsu so lets jus see what he does

  • Chris Puuohau

    People writing him off before he even fights smh Haters let the man see what he can do i dnt think hed be fighting if he didnt think he had a shot… and for all of u talking boit his pay.. have they said what hes making?? Cm punk is gnna generate cash flow for the ufc so they can then blow up

  • The Scooby

    Fat Pig Dana: Why not just sign anyone and everyone who wants a shot in the UFC? Oh, you’re friends. That makes sense.

    • BarrysHypocrisy

      Yeah, Dana is the boss and part owner of the UFC so why would he have the right to hire or fire anybody he wants, right?

      I think Dana does half of what he does just to piss of the MMA fanboys like you. And then he sits back on his gigantic pile of money and laughs at the reaction that he gets.

  • Joe Dog

    I still wanna see Kim Kardashian vs Sabel. in the mud with Mickey Rourke as ref under the UFC banner. Why not if it sells?

  • Does One Exist?

    I wanna see a video of him hitting pads

  • Ya Heard

    There are more comments on this article and any other article printed about Punk right now than any previous articles I’ve ever seen to me that means something. This has tons of attention and it hasn’t even come close to happening yet. Punk throwing a punch seems funny in my head.

  • LJ

    Deer in headlights lmao. Im a fan of both WWE and UFC n I hope Phillip Brooks gets his ass handed to him. No place for that prima donna in a UFC ring.

  • Rubbish

    Ways to get in the UFC:
    1.Work through years of training and putting together a string of impressive wins.
    2. Be Danas friend.

    • Nope just be Dana’s friend. WWE is fake and its not real wrestling…

  • SexyHyde

    Fight and performance bonuses are released. But locker room bonuses are never disclosed, you can rest assured that the better the ppv the larger the envelope.

  • themaestro

    The only thing i didnt like about what jon jones had to say was he didnt earn a spot because he dint struggle and go through rough times and give up everything to get into the ufc like the other competitors. Well im sure he did go through that to get into the wwe all of the wwe wrestlers give up everything and go on the road and wrestle 7 or 8 matches a week and get paid nothing and eat peanut butter sandwiches. So as far as im concerned he put in his time now as to whether or not he can fight for real is another question. Right now only he knows if he got what it takes to be a ufc fighter and the rest of us will just have to wait and find out.

    • Being in the WWE isn’t earning your way into the UFC. What they do in the WWE is fake and is not a sport

  • No Name

    Don;t know why he try the UFC, but it Interesting, after a few months not in action he back and came to the real Fight