Mixed martial arts is regulated by government-run State, Provincial, and Tribal athletic commissions everywhere in North America. Regulations vary in some regards from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
One of the best run commissions anywhere is Ohio, under Executive Director Bernie Profato. Many ACs have minimal standards for who is allowed to turn pro, but not so Ohio. Profato turns down lots of applications for a professional license, and his right to do so is part of state law:
A mixed martial arts fighter will be required to have a minimum of five recorded amateur bouts with a winning record prior to being permitted to compete as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. They may appeal to the executive director or Ohio athletic commission to have this waived.
UFC 203 main event competitor Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks has no MMA experience and no combat sports experience. An appeal was made to Profato by the UFC to grant Brooks a professional license. It was accepted, based on Brooks extensive training with the world-class Duke Roufus, his stellar professional wrestling career, and faith in UFC matchmaking.
A number of websites questioned whether rules were broken. They weren’t.
Brooks was asked about the media reports at the UFC 203 open workout media scrum. He was not impressed.
“I don’t know anything about that,” he said. “I also don’t really care. To me, it’s out of my hands. I don’t know why people care, like if you’re not me, and you’re not the guy fighting me, why the hell are you so invested? Are we tarnishing the sport where people try to break each other’s faces?”
A reported suggested that the reports were made out of concern for Brooks’ safety.
“No,” he replied. “They’re not. They’re hack journalists who f***ing want to stir up a bunch of s*** for no reason because they don’t get invited to this.”
Brooks intends to win, but sees a moral victory in getting where he is.
“The goal, obviously, is to get your hand raised,” he said. “I think if you walk in there with anything less than that, you’ve already lost. I belong here, my team belongs here, and I’m confident in my preparation. But just stepping foot in the octagon, that’s a victory. Just rehydrating and eating on Friday, that’s a victory. That’s the way I look at it.”
If Brooks wins, that is absolutely a victory victory. And a lot of members of the MMA community will have a murder of crows to eat.
If Brooks makes it to the second round, it is absolutely a moral victory.
If he is taken out in the first, easily, he is a man who overreached. The price of doing so is at the very heart of mixed martial arts. Once the door is locked, the fighters are in one of the most honest spaces in the universe. All vanity, all self-deceit, all overreaching is useless. All that matters is whether you know how to fight.