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.
“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.
“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.