Breaking Down CM Punk's Transition to UFC
The date is December 6, 2014 and the leader of “The Cult of Personality,” Phil “CM Punk” Brooks has made the long walk from backstage at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. He’s standing with commentator Joe Rogan in front of UFC cameras. Once the cameras’ red lights came on, a storm was sure to ensue.
At UFC 181 it was officially announced that Punk would be joining the promotion. Immediately I smiled, happy to know that I’d get to watch one of my favorite entertainers in real competition. However, I’m not stupid. A myriad of questions soon flooded the Internet: Does he deserve to be in the UFC? Who is he training with? When and and WHO will he fight? Most importantly, what was UFC President Dana White thinking? I, in my lowly role as a simple journalist, will share my thoughts and attempt to answer these questions. Does Punk deserve to be in the UFC? Being both a fan of Punk and MMA, I say absolutely not--yet. The U in UFC stands for Ultimate, the home of the most elite fighters in the sport. As is known, Punk did nothing other than some karate and went out for his high-school wrestling team in his youth. Although, he does deserve to compete in the sport of MMA, even at 36, if he so chooses. Training It’s been out for awhile that the former WWE champion has been training with Duke Roufus’ Roufusport MMA Academy in Milwaukee (home to former Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis) , so it’s not like he’s coming in ice cold when it comes to preparation. Still, WWE’s Brock Lesnar (5-3 overall) had at least a single pre-UFC bout to go along with his 2000 NCAA Division-I Heavyweight title. Fellow WWE alum, Bobby Lashley “won three national college amateur wrestling championships between 1996 and 1998 and placed fourth in 1995. In 1997 and 1998, he was the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Wrestling Champion”, wrestled in the Army, and went 10-2 in MMA before joining Bellator (12-2 overall). White has said that Punk’s unknown adversary for his eventual debut will be in the 0-1, 0-0, 1-0 range and he won't get a title shot within three bouts (a la Lesnar). Many, myself included, would have liked for him to pay his dues, which is something he admittedly understands. What were they thinking!? In spite of everything, this plan is still genius because if you’re a fan, you want to see this fight. If you are an MMA puritan that wants to see this man get his head kicked into the rafters, you’re watching this fight. With there being talk of Punk’s debut not happening until after Roufus has trained him for a year, the hype will continue to build which will drive fans nuts. I don’t want the UFC to become a circus, but it is about entertainment, is a business as much as a sport league. Whether it’s a win, loss, or draw for Punk, dollars mean a win for Dana. To paraphrase Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, everyone needs to “know their role and shut their mouth!”