During the UFC 181: Hendricks vs. Lawler II pay-per-view broadcast on Dec. 6, the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced that they’d signed a multi-fight deal with former WWE star Phil “CM Punk” Brooks. The announcement has been met with praise and criticism from fighters, media and fans.
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The 36-year-old former WWE professional wrestling champion is a proven pay-per-view draw. He’s a big name. And that’s essentially why he was signed by the organization.
“He comes to all the fights. He’s a huge fan. Once his deal was up with the WWE, he called me and said, ‘I’d really like to fight in the UFC.’ I told him, ‘you’ve got no fights.’ But he wants to try it. Obviously, the guy is a huge superstar. I’ll give him the shot,” said UFC president Dana White during the UFC 181 Post-Show on Fox Sports 1.
Mixed martial arts purists have said the signing of Brooks marks one of the lowest points in UFC history. Others believe the star power of Brooks will generate increased exposure for the sport to casual fans, spark new interest, and ultimately result in much-needed increased revenue. But both sides are skeptical about his potential for success.
Brooks has a background in martial arts, but he’s never actually fought. He’s not Brock Lesnar, who had an extensive collegiate wrestling resume before joining the UFC after one professional fight. Plus, Brooks is 36-years old.
White is also skeptical of Brooks’ chances inside the famed octagon.
“I would say I agree with every one of those things you people just said,” said White.
“Yeah, of course. I’m absolutely skeptical.”
The thing that really upsets the purists is the fact that the UFC has released top ten-ranked fighters. Brooks being signed with no previous fights is rare, but not unprecedented.
Amir Sadollah appeared on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter without having a single professional fight. He eventually won the show and debuted in the organization with a 0-0 professional record, for example.
White takes the we’ll-have-to-see approach to Brooks’ future as a UFC Fighter.
“Who knows? You don’t know unless you try. You don’t know if the guy can fight unless he fights. He wants to fight here. He’s like, ‘I’m at an age where I don’t’ have time to go work on my game and work my way up to the UFC. I’d like to start here. I’d like to give it a shot if you’d give me that opportunity.’ I said, ‘yes. I will,” said White.
“CM Punk” doesn’t know exactly what weight calls he’ll eventually compete in. It will either be in the middleweight or welterweight division. He also doesn’t know what gym he’ll be training out of, so don’t expect to see him in action any time soon.
“I think what he wants to do is take his time, start training, get with the right camp. It would be six or seven months (before he fought),” said White.