CM Punk: Talk of an MMA Career Is Irrelevant Until He Says Otherwise

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2014

COMMERCIAL  IMAGE - In this photograph taken by AP Images for WWE, WWE Champion CM Punk thanks the troops for their service during WWE’s 9th annual
Jim R. Bounds/Associated Press

Have you heard?

Some guy who you probably don't know is thinking about maybe possibly taking up a sport he's never tried before. Professionally.

Seriously. He is.

And some people are already looking to pay him to do it, while others are suggesting coaches and possible adversaries for him.

I know, man. It's crazy.

If what you see above seems kind of stupid, there's a good reason for that: It is.

It's very stupid, in fact—the type of runaround hearsay and dialogue you'd anticipate from that co-worker you don't like or your girlfriend's brother who kind of sucks.

It's also a pretty accurate distillation of all the talk about pro wrestling's CM Punk making a jump to mixed martial arts after he recently left WWE. People are running around with genuine enthusiasm at the prospect of this guy, who they don't know, taking up a sport he has no experience in. Professionally.

Now, sure, there's nothing really wrong with that fact. Any positive buzz that brings crossover eyes is fundamentally a good thing for MMA, and Punk (real name Phil Brooks, from now on addressed as such) going from fan to fighter is definitely generating buzz.

But in finding a promotional fit, a coaching staff and a first fight for the guy, the MMA world is ignoring the most important part of it all: Brooks hasn't said a word about MMA since he left WWE.

This prospective MMA career is, in the most literal way imaginable, completely speculative.

So why is it a headline to rival dual Nova Uniao title defenses at UFC 169 or a potential title eliminator between Gegard Mousasi and Lyoto Machida this weekend? What makes people so fixated on this guy, an MMA neophyte if we're being generous, and his desire to pick a caged fistfight on a Saturday night?

It's probably a number of things.

Perhaps most notably, the last true wrestling megastar to hit MMA was Brock Lesnar, and we all recall how that turned out: lots of cash for everyone involved, a big gold belt for Lesnar and a constant source of copy for the media.

Desire to recapture that, in spite of Brooks being older than Lesnar at the start of this potential MMA endeavor and far less experienced as a combat athlete, could play a factor for promoters, fans and media alike.

Also, Brooks, at least in his Punk persona, has an undeniable charisma that saw him rocket to the top of pro wrestling despite constant concerns about his size, appearance and attitude. Though not to the level of Lesnar before him, he can capture mainstream attention, and he has the type of magnetism that makes people want to watch him.

There's also the list of other pro wrestlers who have competed in MMA, such as Dave Bautista and Bobby Lashley, who make the case for Brooks to be able to dive in at a lower level and perhaps get a little work in to see where things go.

The reasons exist as to why this saga is so appealing to the masses, for sure. However until Brooks himself makes his intentions known, the talk is totally irrelevant.

He could be back in a WWE ring by March if he works out his issues with the company.

He could be off doing movies or wrestling independent shows.

He could be sitting in his home in Chicago twiddling his thumbs and enjoying life, because he was smart with his money in ways some pro wrestlers aren't, and he doesn't need the business the way some guys do.

No one knows because he hasn't said anything, and that's why this MMA talk is an egregious waste of time.

Would 0-0 MMA competitor and former WWE star Phil Brooks taking a fight be interesting if it happened? Absolutely. Pro wrestlers are—bar none—the most underrated athletes in sports (or sports entertainment), and with time to build on his existing skills there's no question it would be worth paying attention to.

But as of now it isn't happening, and there isn't any inclination that it ever will. Not from Brooks, not from insiders, not from anyone.

So let's all agree to let this one lie for a while and focus on things that are actually happening in the cage. And if we can't do that, let's at least try to focus on things relevant to actual MMA competitors as opposed to guys who might want to try fighting some time. Walk into any gym in the world and you can find a dozen guys who might want to try fighting some time.

Regardless of star power or exposure, Brooks is just another one of those guys as of now. He should be treated as such until he tells us otherwise.

Follow me on Twitter @matthewjryder!