It’s not often I agree with any of the Diaz brothers but I fully support Nate’s opinion on the UFC’s decision to sign former WWE star CM Punk. In an interview with Ariel Helwani ahead of his recent fight with Rafael Dos Anjos Nate was very passionate in his response about the fact the UFC are basically giving an amateur fighter a chance to compete in the world’s premier MMA organisation, just because of his fame and potential to sell PPV. Nate feels that the UFC is undermining everyone on the roster that has trained all their lives to merit their position as a professional MMA athlete. Nate said, “He might do great, but why does he get a chance? He’s an amateur. You’re going to put an amateur in there with pros? That makes us all amateurs, so I think it’s ridiculous. As far as I’m concerned, f-ck him, f-ck the whole situation.” I couldn’t agree more.
Holywood actor Jason Statham has trained Wing Chun kung fu, karate, and kick boxing so does that qualify him for a UFC contract also? On the flip side, UFC Champ Jose Aldo has huge fame, particularly in his native Brazil, and is a very talented soccer player but I wont hold my breath for the Brazil national soccer team giving him a starting slot in the next world cup. It’s ridiculous.
Of course CM Punk, real name Phil Brooks, isn’t the first WWE star to grace the Octagon as a few years ago we seen Brock Lesnar make a successful transition from pro wrestling entertainment to becoming a UFC Heavyweight champion. But this CM Punk situation is not the same, not even close, Brock was an extremely decorated amateur wrestler amassing a college record of 106 and 5. On the other hand CM Punk has no fight experience whatsoever. In fact, at the point whereby the UFC confirmed his signing the former WWE Champ didn’t even have a MMA gym to call his home, or even have a clue what weight division he would eventually compete at.
A self proclaimed Kempo and BJJ background certainly does not qualify him or anyone else as a professional Mixed Martial Artist worthy of a UFC contract. It’s disappointing therefore that Dana White thinks we should believe him when he tells us this isn’t about the UFC cashing in on Punk’s fame, when clearly it is. It is well documented that 2014 hasn’t been great financially for the UFC with most of their higher profile champions unable to fight as often as they would like due to injuries but that is more about bad luck than a diminishing interest in MMA.
The early part of 2015 sees the return of the greatest fighter of all time, Anderson Silva, and a whole host of much anticipated fights so the UFC accountants needn’t be worrying. Yes the signing of CM Punk along with the re-signing of an ageing Rampage Jackson will generate new revenue, but the real story is that this whole episode smacks of desperation and a willingness to sacrifice credibility for the sake of some quick PPV wins.