Phil Brooks is a name you're going to have to get to know, mixed martial arts fans, because it's the given name of the one and only CM Punk, the former professional wrestler who is using his fame from that world to take his shot at cagefighting. The move was announced during UFC 181 last night in Las Vegas.
But how on Earth did he convince UFC President Dana White to give him his shot in the world's largest fight promotion?
While Brooks is most certainly an athlete, he's never competed professionally in any sport, let alone MMA. He's trained, sure, but how extensively is up for debate and whether or not that qualifies him to step inside the Octagon in his pro debut is questionable at best, promotional malpractice at worst.
"It's now or never," in his mind.
Ariel Helwani caught up with White to get the how and the why on this decision:
"He comes to all the fights, he's a huge fan. Once his deal was up with the WWE, he called me and he said 'I would really like to fight in the UFC.' I told him 'you've got no fights.' But he wants to try it and obviously the guy is a huge superstar. I'll give him the shot. I'd say I agree with every one of the things people are saying. Yeah, of course, I'm absolutely skeptical. Who knows? You don't know unless you try. You don't know if the guy can fight unless he fights. He wants to fight here. He's like 'I'm at an age where I don't have time to go work on my game and work my way up to the UFC. I'd like to start here, I'd like to give it a shot if you would give me that opportunity.' I said 'yes, I will.' I don't know (when his debut will be). What did he say? I think what he wants to do is take his time, start training, get with the right camp. It could be six or seven months."
If nothing else, Punk will bring a few casual fans along from his time in WWE, or at least that's the idea. That's what Brock Lesnar did back in 2008 and the UFC reached heights it could only dream of before him.
Are we in for another MMA boom?
Perhaps. Perhaps not. Either way, 2015 should be most interesting indeed.