Mike Jackson will probably be the first person to tell you he doesn’t belong amongst the best fighters in the UFC.
The Texas based fighter has been competing in martial arts for the better part of a decade while also working as a journalist and photographer covering the sport so he understands how it all works.
Whether he’s fighting or just covering the sport, Jackson has pretty much dedicated his life to mixed martial arts. That’s where Jackson feels the road splits between him and former WWE superstar CM Punk (real name Phil Brooks), who he faces at UFC 225 this weekend in Chicago.
Jackson looks at Punk as a lifelong fan of the sport — someone who admired what the fighters could do inside the Octagon and even took up an interest in training before receiving the offer of a lifetime.
When Punk decided to actually entertain the idea of fighting, UFC president Dana White came calling with a lucrative offer to make his mixed martial arts debut on the biggest stage in the world and he took it.
Now Jackson doesn’t fault Punk for wanting to compete much less accepting a six-figure salary from the UFC to do it, but he still believes the 39-year old martial arts novice is fighting for a much different reason than every other person stepping into that Octagon on Saturday night.
“I legit feel this is a bucket list thing for him,” Jackson told MMAWeekly. “I don’t think this is someone coming from a different industry and trying to make a name for himself in MMA. I think this is just someone who loves the sport and wanted to give it a shot.
“The path that he took to get here, that’s the only logical explanation I can come up with. It’s a bucket list thing.”
When it comes down to matching skill for skill, Jackson admits there’s not much to work with from Punk’s first fight against Mickey Gall.
Of course, Jackson doesn’t shy away from the fact that he suffered a similar loss to Gall when he made his UFC debut last year but he still knows deep down that he has a lot more to offer in this fight than what Punk could possibly have gained since first starting the sport a little over three years ago.
“I’ve been in this sport a decade. I’ve been in MMA 10 years now and I’ve been able to see the evolution of the sport. From what I saw from Phil against Mickey, I didn’t see the modern day MMA fighter,” Jackson explained. “What I saw, to be honest with you, was an amateur fighter from 10 years ago.
“To be honest with you, in a year and a half’s time [since his last fight] and you have to think who he is and his schedule, trying to find time to train, on top of just being nearly 40 years old and being in professional wrestling, these are all variables that you have to consider.”
The best possible analogy Jackson can give is Punk is trying to jump into the deep end of the biggest MMA promotion in the world is akin to him deciding he wants to be a professional wrestler and asking to join the WWE roster on his first day in the gym.
“You’ve never fought!” Jackson said about Punk. “That’s like me walking up to Vince McMahon on day one and saying hey I want to be the champ.”
If all goes well on Saturday night, Jackson isn’t planning some elaborate call out or even trying to hog the spotlight from other fighters on the card. He just knows deep down that Punk doesn’t belong in the cage with him and he’s out to prove it.
“It’s still a mismatch,” Jackson said. “People that are saying [it’s closer], they just don’t know. It’s not their fault for their ignorance. It’s just what it is. At one point in time, I had no idea who Anderson Silva was. I was like who is this guy? Then after he smashed on Chris Leben, I was an instant fan.
“I’m not saying I’m Anderson Silva, I’m just saying the situation’s similar where people have just not seen me. They don’t know me cause I don’t have that kind of exposure.”