After many months of wondering and waiting, we finally have a debut date for hyped UFC signee CM Punk, AKA Phil Brooks. Punk will step into the Octagon in Cleveland on September 10th, just 3 months shy of his 2nd anniversary of signing on to fight for UFC. So, is this debut too late? Is it still anticipated?
Speaking as a wrestling writer and fan, I think it is. It will no doubt take some more promotion to get the interest up again, as the past 18 months of quiet have allowed Punk to fade into the background. Wrestling fans still think of him, and still on occasion chant for him, but he’s not in everyone’s face. That will change. And Punk, of course, is a master showman, someone who loves to talk, to hype himself up. And he’s good at it. So now that we know the debut date, trust me, the word will get out.
As for it being late? I don’t habitually track UFC signings and debuts, but it does seem like a long time. But in fairness, he was going from a ring to an Octagon, and from a form of entertainment which, while physical, is rehearsed and largely pre-determined. Yes, some moves do hurt, the bumps are real enough, but no one will ever confuse a WWE match for a UFC one. So, it’s normal for there to be a period of adjustment and a learning curve. If Brooks’ was nearly 2 years, then so be it.
I think at the end of the day, UFC fans, the hardcore MMA lovers, may be less jazzed about it than the WWE fans who either want to see how good Brooks does, or how badly he might get beaten. Then again, there are likely UFC fans who will watch just to see if the guy from WWE can sink or swim, and I think at the end of the day, that was Dana White’s intent all along-to drive ratings, to draw in more viewers. So it’s entirely possible that White might be the one anticipating the bout the most, outside of Brooks himself.
I can’t answer the question for everyone, but I can answer it for myself. I’ve been watching for months to find out when we’d finally see Brooks do battle, and now that we know, I know I’ll be tuning in. There’s definitely a desire to see if he can cut it or not, so for at least one night in September, I will be tuning in to UFC.