Phil “CM Punk” Brooks has signed a multi-fight deal with Ultimate Fighting Championship and will make his Octagon debut in 2015, the promotion announced Saturday night.
The UFC teased a big announcement following the first match of the UFC 181 pay-per-view portion and delivered. Joe Rogan interviewed Brooks cageside at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Brooks, 36, wasn’t sure of a weight class yet, but said both middleweight and welterweight were options.
“I have a background in kempo and I’ve been doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu for a long time," Brooks told Rogan. "This is my new career, 100-percent. I'm going to go full steam ahead, all systems go after today, and it's going to be fun. I have nothing but respect for everybody here at the UFC, everybody who steps in the Octagon to fight. And when it's all said and done, when I'm finished, everybody's going to have to respect me because I have come here to fight."
The former WWE champion has made headlines last week for a series of podcast interviews where he ripped Vince McMahon’s company for how he was treated during his eight years as a performer. The WWE fired Brooks earlier this year and he has now stated on multiple occasions that he has no intentions of ever returning.
That opens the door for mixed martial arts, a sport that Brooks has followed closely while competing in the WWE. He’s no stranger to UFC pay-per-views and has made several “Gracie Breakdown” cameos alongside friend and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu instructor Rener Gracie.
“I felt like it was now or never," Brooks added. "I have a limited window most fighters don't have. I'm either here to win or get my ass kicked.
What kind of impact will the 6-foot-2 Brooks have in UFC? It's hard to say until he settles on a weight class and trainer. In terms of being a pay-per-view draw, there's only one Brock Lesnar, so we can stop with that comparison.
But Brooks will be able to attract new eyeballs to the sport and the UFC should see a noticeable spike during his debut fight. Before he left the WWE, Brooks developed a cult following and was easily one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster.
Plus, let’s not forget one of the reasons why Brooks’ popularity surged was his gift of gab on the microphone. As Conor McGregor has proven in 2014, you can get a long way in MMA if you know how to turn it “on” for the cameras.
Dana White hit a home run the last time he brought over a former WWE champion. We shall see if White's latest pro wrestling investment will once again deliver.