By Matt Saccaro
When CM Punk signed with the UFC last night MMA fans, pundits and every pseudo-journalist in between lost their minds either with glee, bemusement, or disgust.
There’s not necessarily one “right” way to look at the issue of the UFC signing CM Punk (whose real name is Phil Brooks). Is he killing MMA’s credibility? Yes. Is he going to be a big draw and help the UFC out of a rut? Yes.
There’s a lot going on here. Let’s look at CM Punk’s UFC signing in depth…
CM Punk is killing the UFC’s credibility
Oh, undeniably. The argument here is signing CM Punk turns the UFC from legitimate athletic endeavor [Ed's note: LMAO] into celebrity boxing.
Proponents of this theory are, well, kind of accurate. During the Reebok sponsorship press conference last week, the UFC boasted about the Reebok deal bringing them in line with the NFL and other major sports organizations. While the realities of that statement are dubious, it’s clear the UFC wanted viewers to leave with that “fact” as a key takeaway.
But would an NFL team sign CM Punk as a QB just because he might draw ratings and sell tickets? Hell, NFL teams wouldn’t even sign perennial attention-getter Tim Tebow who’s an actual football player. And as Bleacher Report‘s Jonathan Snowden pointed out, even Michael Jordan had to start in the minor leagues when he wanted to play baseball.
The NFL, NBA, or any other big league would never sign a 36-year-old with zero sports background just for attention and a bit of quick cash. These organizations care about legitimacy or at least the illusion of legitimacy. They want to convey class and prestige. They’re athletic contests, not Dancing with the Stars.
By signing CM Punk, the UFC admitted they are an entertainment company first and a sport second. While this has arguably been true since day one, they’ve never gone out of their way to make it so apparent before.
More takes after the jump.