Brock Lesnar and CM Punk have quite a bit in common these days. Both are wrestling personalities strongly associated with the WWE brand, and yet each man is likely to be the subject of an angry rant by UFC fans. Of the two, it’s fair to say that Lesnar has been a sore point for fight fans for much longer. After all, Block is a former UFC Heavyweight champion.
He only had a few fights in the UFC and yet managed to snag a belt. The idea that a “fake wrestler” could come into their house and give their UFC a figurative black eye keeps some fans livid years later. That’s one reason it’s rather fitting that Lesnar will be back in the UFC for the much-anticipated UFC 200.He featured at UFC 100 against Frank Mir. It was memorable for a decisive win by Brock Lesnar…which was followed by middle fingers raised high in the air at booing mixed martial arts (MMA) fans.
CM Punk hasn’t been anywhere near as disrespectful since signing with the UFC back in December 2014. Punk even went as far as to happily throw the WWE under the bus. However, that doesn’t matter since — unlike Lesnar — he has no concrete fight background. Despite being 37, CM Punk is hoping to make his MMA fight career a reality and live a passionate dream. To make that dream a reality, CM Punk must get past the 2-0 Mickey Gall at UFC 203.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of how MMA fans and UFC fans specifically view CM Punk comes by way of Gall himself. During an interview with SiriusXM Fight Club, Gall had this to say.
“I will look like an a**hole if I get beat by CM Punk. People are treating him like a joke. I’m taking it very seriously.”
“I want people to look at like I’m representing real MMA fighters, guys who grinded, guys who had to work s**t jobs to be able to make a little money around their training schedule. I hope people look at it as I’m representing MMA. I plan to back that up.”
Yes, both Brock Lesnar and CM Punk are seen as outsiders, hailing from the land of “fake wrestling.” They both are loathed by UFC fans, but which of the two is more hated?
To answer that question, we must first get into the mind of your average MMA fan and really break down what it means to compete in the MMA world. If you didn’t know, the term “mixed martial arts” is attributed to the many different fighting disciplines that come together in the UFC — boxing, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, karate, and judo just to name a few. Often fighters rely on combinations of fighting styles to give them an edge on their opponents. Certain fighters are known for striking and others for their “ground and pound” techniques. It really does vary from fighter to fighter.
In the MMA world, it’s all about skill and training. The hits and injuries are always real, as evidenced by swollen and bruised faces during post-event press conferences. The outcomes, when not decided by a knockout or submission, are determined by judges’ scorecards. When you compare this to the often scripted, sometimes to the point of cartoonish, world of WWE’s “sports entertainment,” it seems insulting to put WWE in the same sentence as UFC.
However, that very same UFC fan snobbery could be what spares Brock Lesnar a considerable amount of hate these days…at least when compared to CM Punk’s (once) much-hyped debut.
When TMZ Sports first got wind of a possible CM Punk move to the UFC, there was considerable hype. Well, considerable curiosity at least. CM Punk was something of an indie wrestling darling rather than a mainstream WWE Superstar (think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin). And yet, as time passed with no word about debut, it became apparent that he was no Brock Lesnar. Lesnar came into the UFC with an undeniable wrestling background. Punk? Well, he was in desperate need of all the help he could get to avoid embarrassing himself in his first ever MMA bout.
More time passed, and despite having an opponent lined up, there was no date for a debut. All that was known up until quite recently was that CM Punk had injury problems and, as WrestleZone claimed, he also had trouble getting the hang of MMA.
UFC 203 is going to be a make-or-break moment for CM Punk, with many expecting “break” to be the outcome. Both Lesnar and Punk are underdogs going into their fights, but the latter man will at least be entering the Octagon with a grudgingly offered respect. Again, Lesnar is a former UFC champ who has fought and bled. He has MMA credibility, no matter how reluctantly it’s given.
CM Punk is the walking culmination of everything hardcore UFC fans hate about WWE-type outsiders: Punk has zero fight experience having spent his entire competitive career “fake wrestling,” and he was brought into the UFC solely for hype purposes. The hostility towards Punk is that of believing he genuinely doesn’t belong, with his opponents viewed as “gatekeepers” responsible for keeping him and his kind out of the UFC.
All things considered, I’d say Lesnar is less of an outsider than Punk, and viewed as the more genuine fighter. And for that reason above all others, I’d say CM Punk is probably the more loathed of the two. At least for the moment. If CM Punk is somehow able to carve out a UFC career for himself, perhaps he too will be the beneficiary of some form of respect.
But what do you think? Which man is more hated by UFC fans: CM Punk or Brock Lesnar? Share your opinion in the comment section below!
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images, UFC on FOX]