When Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced that it had signed former WWE superstar Phil Brooks, also known as CM Punk, to a contract to fight inside the Octagon, the reaction from the mixed martial arts (MMA) community was, well, mixed.
Now, UFC President Dana White recently offered his take on the reaction from the MMA community, saying that he understands the apprehension some may have. He also explained the reason he decided to give Brooks a shot in the biggest league of them all without ever having fought professionally before.
His words (via The Download):
"The feedback has been both -- it's mixed. Some people love it, some people hate it. The people who are opposed to it and bitching about it, I get it. Every fight that we do isn't going to be everybody's thing, but there will be people who want to watch him and those that don't. He and I have become friends and he told me, ‘I've achieved some cool things in my life and I want to try the UFC. It's not like I'm young enough to fight my way up in the smaller leagues. I'd like to come in and give it a shot and see what I got,'"
Among the many who criticized White's move to sign the former professional wrestler is none other than Ben Askren, a man who has had a rocky past with White and Co. and never got his chance to compete inside the Octagon. This, despite being one of the best welterweights in the world.
But, according to White, it seems Askren was selling wolf tickets all along, as he believes -- and people close to Askren can confirm -- that the wrestling machine never really wanted to test himself inside the Octagon from the get-go.
"The thing is with Ben Askren is that Ben Askren doesn't really want to fight here, in my opinion. People that are close to him say the same thing. The guy is making a ton of money to fight nobodies, but when you talk and you say a lot of things it keeps your name out there. Trust me when I tell you this, Ben Askren does not want to fight in the UFC. Believe me when I tell you that."
Brooks has yet to officially confirm which weight class he will compete in, though he has indicated that welterweight is the likely destination ... something that will only likely fuel Askren's rage.
As far as potential opponent for the former WWE star, that's still up in the air; but he definitely won't be getting a Top 15-ranked opponent right of the bat.