WWE superstar Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks makes his MMA debut at UFC 203 on Saturday. The general consensus is that Brooks is not ready for the Octagon, and at 37 he never will be.
He doesn’t even hold his hands quite right. When he takes publicity shots, Brooks looks faintly like he’s driving a clown car.
On the other hand, Brooks is worth many millions, is not young, and is taking a long, hard shot a long, hard dream. There is nobility in that.
Brooks is meeting his dream in one of the truest spaces on the planet. Once the door closes, all lies are useless. If he over stepped, he alone will take a beating in front of millions. Brooks is brave; give him that.
His coach, the inestimable Duke Roufus did a long and eloquent, even moving interview with Michael Stets for MMA Mania. If you are a ‘rasslin and CM Punk fan, read it, you’ll like it. If you have your doubts, even the deepest doubts, then read it too – anything can happen in mixed martial arts, which is why you have the fight.
“He doesn’t have to do this,” said Roufus. “That’s what is special about it. That’s what’s inspiring. A lot of my guys are fighting to get out. We have a lot of kids come from rough upbringings. Their motivation is… Anthony bought his mom a house and car. Emmanuel Sanchez—a Bellator fighter—bought his mom a car last year. A lot of my guys come from humble beginnings, but to see a guy who has a lot, work just as hard as the kid over here who has nothing, I just bow down and give him so much respect. That’s what our team is built on is respect for one another.”
“He can hit. He’s got a punch. He can crack. But, every day he is getting better. Again, he just took down a good wrestler the other day. He’s submitting guys I’m surprised he’s submitting. So, he’s taking turns.”
“[Taking a punch] took awhile. That was the hardest stage honestly. That is the hardest stage for anyone. I gotta high-level jiu-jitsu black belt and a high-level wrestler and the hardest part—I still think—in martial arts is someone hitting you in the face. It freaks those people out. It’s the hardest part. Luckily we have a good system for reaction and we do a lot of drilling to get him used to having guys strike at him.”
“My dad always taught me, who was my long time coach, inch by inch is a cinch. You just gotta show up every day inch by inch and get better and just keep moving forward whether it’s an inch it doesn’t matter. By the yard it’s hard, by the mile it’s a trial. If you look for a result, a small result every day at the end of a series of time you will see a lot of big results from small results being compiled.”
“Screw the critics. No disrespect, but their voice doesn’t count in our world. The only voice that counts is the hard work in the gym every day, rest, recovery, and repeat and kick ass and do it all over again. If I spent the whole day on the internet worrying about the criticisms and everything that goes around us we wouldn’t accomplish anything. You gotta block that out.”
“This isn’t a one-time thing for Punk. This is a long-term thing. He wants to make a career in mixed martial arts. This is just not a cash grab or a one-and-done for him. This is a personal journey.”