When the UFC announced Phil “CM Punk” Brooks’ contract signing in December 2014, it sent shockwaves throughout the world of mixed martial arts. Many were surprised by the signing, given that despite his major success and popularity as a former WWE superstar, Brooks has no previous fight experience, amateur or otherwise.
Since then, there has been major speculation regarding an opponent for Brooks, who sports a 0-0 professional fighting record. Many have come forward to contest Brooks in his debut matchup in late 2015, including Jose Canseco, Jason Davis Frank (the original Green Power Ranger), and MMA veteran Michael Bisping.
However, according to ESPN, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, Brooks will face a “competitive” opponent during his debut, but one who will “most likely” fall outside the UFC’s roster.
“I think it has to be somebody with some level of credentials. It’s not just going to be some guy off the street. It’s going to be somebody who is a professional mixed martial artist — certainly somebody who MMA media will recognize and know.”
However, Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Royce Gracie recently appeared on Submission Radio and stated the dangers of Brook’s imminent combat activities.
“Everybody is like, ‘A lot of people are upset with him jumping from WWE to MMA.’ Man, MMA is for everybody. You want to try out? Go ahead. If you’re not ready, it’s not going to be a good way to make a living. Because he’s gonna get punched in the face for real.”
However, despite the backlash, Fertitta described Brook’s signing with the UFC as one that revolves around “fighter development.”
“We knew there was going to be backlash. At the end of the day, we did our research and we talked to the people he’s trained with. We’re going to find out what he can bring to the table. We’re confident he has the skills to fight. We don’t know exactly what level yet. Sometimes, you’ve got to invest in what we call ‘fighter development.’ We’ve done it before and guys have developed into very competitive fighters, and we’ve done it where guys have not.”
For a clearer perspective, the UFC is home to some of the greatest combat athletes on earth. The organization boasts Golden Glove, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and NCAA Division I and Olympic wrestling champions. Therefore, developing a 36-year-old fighter who sports no known mastery in any particular martial art and who possesses no amateur or professional fighting experience will prove to be quite the challenge, even for the largest mixed martial arts organization in the world.
[Featured Image Courtesy of Dave Allocca/Associated Press]