The UFC dropped a bomb at UFC 181 when it announced the signing of former WWE Champion CM Punk to a multi-fight deal that will let the popular professional wrestler compete in the Octagon starting 2015.
From Reel to Real
CM Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, is a seven-time professional wrestling champion in three different professional wrestling organizations. He rose to prominence during his stint at the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) where he was a three time WWE champion and where he developed a huge cult following that made him one of the WWE’s most marketable superstars.
But his relationship with Vince McMahon’s WWE soured, and the WWE fired Brooks earlier this year. Before he signed with the UFC, Brooks was visible in some of the UFC’s major PPV events, fueling speculations that he would move on to mixed martial arts. Those rumors are now a reality, and Brooks has made the brave move from sports entertainment to real fighting inside the Octagon.
The New Brock Lesnar?
Brooks won’t be the first WWE champion to fight in the UFC. That distinction belongs to former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar who took the UFC by storm in 2008. Lesnar wasn’t only a phenom inside the octagon, but he was the UFC’s top PPV draw during his heyday. With Brooks’ WWE popularity, the UFC is hoping that they can turn him into the new Brock Lesnar, especially since the UFC’s PPV numbers have dwindled this year in the absence of PPV mainstays Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre.
But Brooks doesn’t have any wrestling background and has not competed in any MMA bout prior to his UFC deal. However, sources are saying that he has been training for MMA and jiu-jitsu for some time now to get himself ready for the real fights. According to UFC President Dana White, the UFC will not “throw the kitchen sink” at Brooks and will break him in slowly. But with his window of opportunity slowly starting to close at age 36, the UFC may be left with no choice but to feed CM Punk to the lions.
Gift of Gab
What makes Brooks different from Lesnar is his natural gift of gab. The world saw what Conor McGregor did with the same talent this year. The brash Irish talked his way to a very probable title shot in early 2015. But the thing with McGregor is that he backed the talk with his walk. In the WWE, CM Punk never spoke softly, but he always carried a big stick. How that translates to the UFC will greatly depend on the weight class he will settle down in.
Despite being a big name wrestling star, Punk is an unknown force in the UFC until he proves himself with the real boys inside the octagon. The UFC hit a grand slam when they signed Brock Lesnar in 2008. Dana White is hoping that lightning strikes twice in the same place with CM Punk.