By Zach Arnold | December 6, 2014
Oh my god it's CM Punk. He's in UFC. Not making this up.
— Dave Meltzer (@davemeltzerWON) December 7, 2014
The headline coming out of UFC 181 in Las Vegas was the signing of CM Punk by UFC.
“This is obviously gigantic news for a lot of people.” – Ariel Helwani
CM Punk credited Ariel Helwani with him getting a fight in the UFC. Punk stated that he had a meeting in Chicago with Dana & Lorenzo.
When pressed about the critics trashing the promotion for hiring a guy with no experience, Dana White agreed with the criticisms and said he is skeptical, too, but would be willing to give Punk a fight. He estimated that it could happen within the next six or seven months.
Immediately, several UFC fighters smelled blood in the water (and money) and challenged Punk to a fight.
First Question: If Bellator had signed CM Punk to a fight, would they be receiving the same amount of criticism as UFC is getting right now for the hire?
Second Question: Given CM Punk’s admitted history with concussions, should he be cleared to fight by a high-profile athletic commission?
And on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of talent & experience, there’s Anthony Pettis. The UFC is pushing him hard as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in MMA.
This dude just coolly finished Donald Cerrone, Ben Henderson and Gil Melendez consecutively. He did the Showtime Kick. Just… fuck, man.
— Jordan Breen (@jordanbreen) December 7, 2014
Pettis has the total package except for consistent health. He attracts a lot of female fans, which is very important right now for UFC. He has the potential super-fight with Jose Aldo. Really, everything you could ask for. Plus, Ben Askren is working alongside him.
As for the Welterweight division, Las Vegas judges really do not like Johny Hendricks. The Welterweight division has a bunch of really talented fighters who all possess different styles that will likely end up cannibalizing each other in fight after fight. Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler likely in Montreal. None of the guys in Welterweight have the star potential of Georges St. Pierre but they are all extremely respectable & diverse in skill and present some interesting match-ups on paper. I’m not sure if any of them will shatter the current glass ceiling for stardom but you never know.
Everything that took place at UFC 181 happened admist a back-drop where the company is basically greasing the skids, in my opinion, to make managers extinct with the new Reebok uniform/sponsorship deal. If signing with the UFC means they control your fight booking pay slots, have your rights/likenesses forever, and now control your sponsorship deals, why have an agent? Conversely, the company is exerting & maximizing business control during a time in which their (reported) estimated EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, etc) has gone down 40% this year.
Lucky for UFC, Bellator exists. In one respect, Bellator is a gnat in their face. In another respect, Bellator presents great cover whenever someone starts pushing against UFC for being a monopoly. The UFC has the best of all business controls right now. Everyone’s an independent contactor. They will control the sponsorships. They get to pump out merchandise for years to come with the images & likeness of past and present fighters. On one hand, UFC is facing some very difficult challenges. On the other hand, they are insulating themselves with more international TV deals.