I understand why the UFC is putting CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson on the pay-per-view main card at UFC 225, but it’s something I’ll never fundamentally agree with. I get it. Punk is a big name amongst wrestling fans and the UFC believes he will sell more PPVs than the likes of Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes, who have been relegated to the prelims instead. But come on. Punk isn’t a real MMA fighter, and while Jackson has a combat sports background he’s not much of an MMA fighter himself. Both guys are 0-1 as professional fighters and honestly, neither guy has any business being in the UFC, let alone being given such a prominent main card position on one of the most stacked PPV cards of the year.
I’m still not entirely convinced Punk is even that big of a draw in MMA. Yeah, he’s popular amongst wrestling fans, but MMA is a different sport, and most MMA fans don’t respect him. This is a guy who is pushing 40 and who is essentially competing in MMA as a bucket list thing for himself.
It’s bad enough that the UFC signed him in the first place because this is a guy who had no MMA experience at all prior to being signed by the world’s premier fighting organization, but the fact he’s been given huge spots on the PPVs at UFC 203 and UFC 225 is a joke. This guy is not a good fighter at all, and he should have been completely buried on the prelims. It just makes the sport look bad when a guy like this is being promoted more than someone like Overeem, who is one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, or even worse a guy like Joseph Benavidez who was pushed all the way down to the Fight Pass prelims despite being the No. 1 ranked flyweight contender in the world.
Again, I understand that UFC 203 did pretty well on PPV, and the UFC must be hoping Punk’s inclusion on the UFC 225 main card gives the company a few extra buys, but I’m still not convinced that people were buying that card for him, and I don’t know anyone who is buying UFC 225 to watch Punk fight. There was some sort of freakshow element to his debut and I get that people wanted to see that, but Punk was badly exposed against Mickey Gall and there’s no reason to think he’ll do any better against Jackson. MMA is a sport and fighters should have to work their way up the ladder.
Fighting on PPV is something many fighters aspire to do when they first get started in the sport, and it should be a reward for putting in the work and winning fights. But because Punk was a big name in the WWE world he’s been allowed to skip the line entirely, and it’s just not right. It sends a terrible message to the other fighters as to what the UFC is looking for. Instead of building a new star by placing them in the opening fight on one of the best PPVs of the year, the UFC is using a fake fighter to generate a couple cheap buys, and I don’t agree with it.
UFC brass is obviously very business savvy, but at the same time I think it’s ok to question their decisions, and this is one I just don’t agree with at all. Not only should Punk vs. Jackson not be a fight that takes place in the Octagon, but it’s a fight that should be as far away from a PPV as possible. On a card that features some incredible fights, Punk vs. Jackson is by far the worst matchup on the card, yet it is getting one of the most prominent spots on the whole card.
I think a lot of people will argue that the UFC is making the right call as far as business goes, but guess what, how much the UFC makes from their PPV buyrates doesn’t affect me. And as someone who is more of a purist, I’m pretty bothered Punk is being given such an easy path in this sport. Hopefully I’m wrong and maybe this fight between Punk and Jackson is good, but I have a feeling it’s going to be one of the worst UFC fights of all time, and it has no business being on a UFC PPV.