Welcome to the new UFC, where an ever-declining pay-per-view revenue stream and a broadcast deal with FOX that has led to severe oversaturation of the market now has the organization – once touted as the realest, most truthful thing in combat sports – signing former WWE pro wrestlers with zero MMA experience.
Yeah, I’m talking about the announcement last night at UFC 181 that CM Punk (born: Phil Brooks) has put his name on the dotted line for a contract that guarantees him fights in the Octagon, despite him never having set foot in a cage before for a bout not scripted.
Is this big news? For sure it is. He was a top wrestler in Vince McMahon’s WWE, which means Punk has a tons of fans that will no doubt follow him to the UFC and tune in to see how he does. That’s the intended boon his signing was meant to bring to the UFC, of course.
But the perils of extending an Octagon invitation to someone with no experience whatsoever, and bestowing upon his signing all the fanfare worthy of a returning conquering hero… well, remember when Brock Lesnar came to the UFC after just one fight? Remember when he first lost to Frank Mir? I do. And I remember all too clearly how the UFC was scoffed at for taking a risk on a pro wrestler. CM Punk losing to journeyman fighter, or even just beating a tomato can, will be worse. You see, despite his overall lack of fight experience, Lesnar at least had an amateur wrestling pedigree (not to mention insane genetics) on his side. Punk has none of that, which makes his signing a plain-as-day ploy towards sheer entertainment and complete disregard of what makes MMA a sport.
The rewards are certainly great for the UFC if and when Punk’s appearance in cage draws in the amount of eyeballs they assume he will. But the cost… yeah, that’s the real bitch right there.