The UFC don’t normally sign fighters without any professional MMA experience, but they made an exception for Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks.
They did so because, lets face it, they are a business and the fame that Brooks acquired during his time as a WWE superstar meant guaranteed attention/revenue.
It seems however, that the UFC aren’t the only ones making exceptions on account of the Chicago native’s background in faux fighting.
On Tuesday, Erik Magraken of combatsportslaw.com reported that Ohio Athletic Commission regulations dictate that a fighter must have at least five amateur contests and a winning record before being allowed to compete in a professional contest.
But CM Punk, whose debut takes place at UFC 203 in Cleveland, Ohio this Saturday night, does not even have one amateur contest to his name.
Although the legislation does leave room for an appeal and a possible waiver, Magraken was inspired to question if Ohio was bending the rules a little for the UFC and their fighter.
MMAJunkie subsequently contacted the commission for comment and found that executive director Bernie Profato made the decision to waive the rule in this instance, without an appeal ever being filed, due to Brooks’ pro-wrestling experience.
“We felt this was no different than, basically, the Brock Lesnar situation, when they let him fight in the UFC,” Profato said, perhaps unaware that Lesnar had already competed as a professional on one occasion in Japan before debuting for the UFC. Not to mention that his high-level amateur wrestling experience made him a completely different prospect than Brooks.
Still, Profato was happy with the match-up that UFC officials had put together, opposite novice pro Mikey Gall,
“We have confidence in the matchmaking of the UFC,” he said.”If it was that weak a fight, it would have been one of the preliminary-card fights.”
“It’s a competitive fight. It may not be one of the greatest fights on the card, but it’s a competitive fight.”
“The five-fight rule, we’ve waived it a number of times, especially for Ohio State wrestlers. We used the Lesnar situation as an example to approve it. When (professional wrestlers) get that high, they have a massive training (facility). We’ve checked that out with the WWE. They’re watched in there. They probably train, in some cases, even harder than some of the UFC fighters.”
What’s interesting though, is that the aforementioned Magraken also pointed to another regulation, for which a waiver is not permitted. It dictates that any amateur over the age of 35 must compete in a ‘masters division’ with enhanced safety measures on at least three occasions before being allowed to apply to fight under regular amateur rules or as a professional.
Brooks is 37.
“While CM Punk is not an ‘amateur’ this is solely due to the exercise of the Commission’s discretion,” wrote Magraken, before adding that “the spirit of subrule (F) is to apply to all debuting Mixed Martial Artist’s over aged 35.”