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Posted on March 13, 2015 by Jack Thurman
One of the more intriguing MMA stories of the past year was the announcement that pro wrestling superstar C.M. Punk had signed a deal with the UFC. While UFC fanboys like to pretend that their nacent sport is somehow superior to pro wrestling the reality is that it wouldn’t exist without it. In the early days of the UFC the only people that cared at all were bloodthirsty degenerates and pro wrestling fans. In Japan, the growth of the sport–which predates the UFC’s popularity in the United States–is directly tied to pro wrestling organizations like the UWF, UWFi and RINGS.
C.M. Punk left the WWE over a year ago and ever since that happened there was speculation about his next move. The independent wrestling scene just didn’t offer the money he was used to. There were plenty of opportunities in Japan–particularly with New Japan Pro Wrestling, the ‘pound for pound’ best wrestling organization in the world. That’s not for everybody, however, and with a lot of money in the bank Punk had more options than the typical worker.
That led to his interest in MMA and the UFC’s interest in him. The UFC has plenty of good fighters but very few stars. The current crop of superstars including Anderson Silva and GSP are on the downside of their career. There are few ‘superstars’ among the current crop of UFC champions. The reality is that most of them could walk down a crowded city street and go completely unrecognized. That might be good for them, but bad for the promotion. At this point, Ronda Rousey is the only marketable commodity on the UFC roster.
It wouldn’t be a huge surprise, however, if C.M. Punk never competed in the UFC or any other MMA organization. It is a perfect negotiating tool with the other pro wrestling groups around the world. Everyone knows that when trying to negotiate a deal the more competing options available the better. With few available to CM Punk in US pro wrestling the best move was to find a tangentially related profession–and the UFC is a perfect fit.