A deal that would begin from a couple of expresses of interest from both Phil Brooks (aka: CM Punk) and Dana White in response to media questions, would slingshot into a shocking, live contractual signing television announcement at UFC 181, of Phil Brooks to the UFC roster. With mic in hand stood next to the ‘contract announcing’ Joe Rogan Phil would announce ‘UFC is his new career’.
Fast forwarding to present day of writing: 26/04/2018. Three weeks after the official second UFC fight announcement for Phil Brooks, against Mike Jackson (0-1-0) that will take place on the UFC 225 card in Chicago, Illinois. Time-scaling that announcement from the prior annoucement that was dated: 6/12/1014. That is a staggering, 41 months of expected anticipation required from the fans.
UFC and Phil Brooks share the same illustrious red carpet status. That is top agenda when coming together to make such a deal work between both parties. There is certainly a set place for a certain value. Phil brooks value fits the UFC placement. That is, only in terms of status and NOT the sporting philosophy that the UFC has maintined over its existence, and certainly NOT a philosophy that the UFC fans have dedicated their interest to.
At a time where European MMA is in a good place. Analysing the talent European MMA has, who are not currently contracted to the UFC. You can certainly empathise for them, as they sit on their couch and tune in to watch a ‘C.M Punk fight’.
Whilst empathy is deserved for the talented fighters who are not under UFC contract, C.M Punk is an attraction. C.M Punk will bring in an audience from the outer-circle; especially the WWE circle — which is a lot broader, factually than the UFC’s circle. Phil Brooks brings mainstream t.v coverage in the lead-up to his fight also. So he fits 100% of the UFC’s business criteria; sadly just not the required martial arts abilities criteria.
What Phil Brooks also brings to the octagon, is an opponent of a 0-1-0 pro MMA record, in Mike “The Truth” Jackson. The truth is, Mike Jackson meets none of the UFC’s business, ability, or MMA record criteria to enter the octagon cage. This dilutes how the UFC is perceived as being a place where you watch the best fighters compete, and that there’s a constant influx of talented fighters all surviving to be on the roster; leading to a revolving door of hot/hungry talent. You know what the UFC’s purpose is, you know what you’re tuning in to watch; you know what you’re investing in (of most importance). Watching Bruce Buffer announce a 0-0-0 fighter, as he did in Mike Jackson’s last fight feels and looks confusing.
C.M Punk vs. Mike Jackson could best be described as an attraction exhibition fight. A fight that will give you something unpredictable, something out of the norm. It is a fun fight and is something you can look forward to. It has no bearing on rankings or titles, it’s just a celebrity wanting to fight and pursue something he has a passion for. A celebrity needs a bright platform though.
BellatorMMA. A company built off of tournaments to find those hidden gems in the MMA World, has changed its criteria / methods under the guidance and leadership of Scott Coker. Coker is all about giving servings of something different for your entertainment. He offers an alternative for UFC fans, to watch some of the other best mixed martial artists compete against one another. He will draft in legends of MMA to relive the golden years, and complete an unfinished story in the MMA world. He will draft in globally recognised sports stars/celebrities. Tournament. Host a kickboxing / MMA event. Co-promote overseas. Scott Coker didn’t have the roster to compete with the UFC, so instead of competing with the UFC, he ran with a different niche. That niche is, ‘spectacle’. No prolonged emotional investment needed, just a spectacle. Scott Coker tries to offer four of those spectacles up in a span of a year. He titles them, ‘tentpole events’.
With a spectacle, there’s not many requirements to meet. You just have to put on a good show that captures the attention of the audience. Most regional promotions do that. BellatorMMA has financial backing; television networks; arena access; the stage, and certainly a roster full of talented fighters. BellatorMMA wasn’t created for the sole purpose to find out ‘what the best martial art was’, and then morth into ‘who the best mixed martial artist is’, unlike the UFC. They have no requirements to attain to. So with requirements stripped C.M Punk vs. anyone is fun under the BellatorMMA banner.
This is where BellatorMMA would appear a better suited home for Phil Brooks: opponents!
Dana White has gone on record about having no desire for ‘freakshow fights’. When Brock Lesnar signed to the UFC back in 2008, he would have to compete against the UFC Heavyweight roster, there would be no special exemptions. Reasons for that can be debated, but one of those reasons was White wanted clear of freakshow fights. It would appear that White has ceased from that stance over the years, whether that is for business reasons or his authority was overridden, but the UFC fans did get to witness Kimbo Slice and James Tony in the UFC Octagon in the short period following Lesnar’s inclusion to the UFC roster. There was also the negotiations with Kurt Angle for The Ultimate Fighter: Season 10.
Whilst White has lightened his stance against freakshow fights, he’s still had one foot down on them. With reported talks between White and Jason Frank, aka: the Green Ranger, falling through as Punk’s welcoming UFC opponent with the UFC opting to go with Mickey Gall instead of other potential candidates it would appear that the UFC have a certain standard to uphold. That standard is to not cross that line of an orgasmic nerdy freakshow fight.
Jason Frank has similar pro MMA experience as Phil also, with a pro MMA record of 1-0-0. Jason would acquire a 4-0-0 amateur MMA record in 2010 along with that single pro victory. Fair fight on paper. But not in terms of decoration. Jason has a high ranking in various martial arts disciplines. A stumbling block that has been a constant when selecting an appropriate opponent for Phil Brooks in the UFC so far.
Jason Frank’s acquired skill-sets and name value has not skipped the attention of BellatorMMA, who have been in contact with Frank last year (2017). Nothing has materialized as of yet, but I’m wondering if those talks would escalate if Phil Brooks was under the Viacom Umbrella (BellatorMMA). At the very least, BellatorMMA is interested in Frank, and the UFC are not. Which opens a lot of doors that the UFC considers no-go areas.
With TV personality Aaron Chalmers firmly resolving to never fight for BAMMA again and looking to establish himself on the Bellator roster a clash with Chalmers would do numbers. Chalmers has already expressed an interest in the bout so at least one half of the match up is ready and waiting to go.
Celebrity vs. C.M Punk. (Former or current) Pro wrestler vs. C.M Punk, are the only logical fights to matchmake. Could you imagine the pro wrestling scene if BellatorMMA scheduled C.M Punk vs. Ken Shamrock, or C.M Punk vs. The Green Ranger. They would be enamored for BellatorMMA President: Scott Coker. The intrigue alone should garner the attention of the masses. Media outside of the ‘MMA World’ is really what BellatorMMA can use to compete with the UFC when it comes to their tentpole events. Even with a miss on the mainstream media, the pro wrestling & MMA podcast scene would be heating up those mics, in distain or utter excitement. All is coverage.
In conclusion, Phil Brooks and BellatorMMA offer each other so much more than the UFC and Phil Brooks offer each other. The UFC struggles to find suitable opponents for Phil hence the long timescale for one pro UFC bout. Potentially dilute their purpose and meaning. Potentially deter or upset MMA prospects on the cusp of a UFC call-up.
BellatorMMA can offer a wider selection of potential opponents, that potentially brings a cross-over from other platforms. BellatorMMA keep with their niche, and hammer that tentpole frame in deeply for the windy times ahead.
Convenience is not legacy. Value to placement is; in this case anyway.
Check out this C.M Punk Merch!
Best in the World T-Shirt; Bullet Club T-Shirt; Second Saint T-Shirt; Nexus T-Shirt; Best in the World — Long Sleeve; GTS T-Shirt; Best in the World — Backpack; Rise Above Cancer T-Shirt; Best Since Day One T-Shirt; ROH: Best of C.M Punk — Summer of Punk (2-discs); C.M Punk Shoot Interview DVD