Say what you will about longtime UFC color commentator Joe Rogan, the man isn’t afraid to speak his mind — even when that might include savagely criticizing his employer and one of their fighters.
Former WWE champion CM Punk (real name Phil Brooks) wanted to make the transition from pro wrestling to mixed martial arts. His huge name and built-in celebrity status allowed him to sign a contract with the UFC right away, despite being in his late 30s and having zero legit fighting experience. Like many predicted, his UFC debut went poorly. Despite almost two years of training, Punk was submitted by a 24-year-old Mickey Gall in about two minutes.
Punk is openly campaigning for at least one more UFC fight, but Rogan has had enough of the circus show. On a recent edition of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Rogan put the entire concept of Punk fighting in the UFC on blast.
“Not to pick on CM Punk,” Rogan started, “but the idea that CM Punk, with no competition experience whatsoever, is going to fight professionally in the biggest organization in the world? It’s a little offensive”
“It’s contrary to everything anyone has ever learned about learning and teaching and getting better at martial arts. You don’t just jump into the deep end of the pool when you’re not some physical freak like Brock Lesnar or something like that. You’re talking about a guy that’s a good athlete, but CM Punk … there’s nothing unbelievable about him. He’s not some freak of nature. So I think if this guy really did want to do this and do it the right way, get him to go through it the right way like everyone else would. Get him to go through smaller organizations. Get him to learn martial arts properly.”
Rogan has a point, of course. Lesnar was at least a former NCAA champion wrestler before he made the jump from WWE to the UFC. Punk had zero experience in any martial arts.
“I would never stop CM Punk from competing,” Rogan continued. “What I would say is ‘Hey man, have a f**king jiu jitsu match. Have a submission grappling match. Have an amateur kickboxing match. [He did it] because he got a f**kload of money and he thought he could do it. Because he’s a strong man, he’s got a strong mind. He’s one of those straight edge guys that thinks hard work pays off and just went out there. He’s a huge celebrity and he thought he could ride that to a new career in the UFC. That’s like saying you’re just gonna jump into NASCAR when you’ve never raced a car before. You’re gonna wind up dead … It’s delusional!”
Tell us how you really feel, Joe!
The UFC have tried to stay away from putting on “freak show” matches, although they have caved on occasion. They gave Kimbo Slice a contract even though he was utterly destroyed on The Ultimate Fighter, and allowed retired boxer James Toney to get schooled by veteran grappler Randy Couture. Obviously the star power of CM Punk was too much for them to resist.