The UFC’s recent signing of former WWE star Phil “CM Punk” Brooks has been polarizing, to say the least. Nate Diaz’s opinion is pretty clear: “It’s horrible for the sport.”
MMAjunkie asked Diaz for his opinion on the recent signing of the 36-year-old to the world’s largest MMA promotion, despite boasting no previous amateur or professional experience, and the lightweight had no problem expressing his frustration.
“I don’t dig it,” Diaz said flatly. “He has got no fights. I know he’s a big draw. I looked him up. Everyone’s going to buy tickets. It’s going to be great for the venue and the UFC, but at the same time, it downgrades all the fighters.”
Diaz made it clear he understood why the UFC made the deal, which was announced at this past weekend’s UFC 181 event in Las Vegas. After all, the promotion is in need of stars it can market, and Brooks absolutely “moves the needle,” to borrow a phrase from UFC President Dana White. But Diaz doesn’t believe the former pro wrestler, with his “slicked-back hair and virgin nose” has earned the right to step into the UFC’s famed octagon.
“He might do great, but why does he get a chance?” Diaz asked. “He’s an amateur. You’re going to put an amateur in there with pros? That makes us all amateurs, so I think it’s ridiculous. As far as I’m concerned, f-ck him, f-ck the whole situation. Anybody who takes that fight is tripping.”
Brooks’ first opponent has yet to be determined, and UFC officials have indicated it will be summer at the earliest before he’s booked, giving him time to focus solely on training for a real fight for the first time in his life.
At a press conference held shortly after his signing was announced, Brooks said he believes the UFC wanted to host his debut fight because the real market value lies in his first MMA appearance. Former UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar made his MMA debut outside of the UFC before coming to the octagon, and Diaz believes Brooks should have followed a similar path: Get at least one win outside of the octagon before coming to the sport’s premier destination.
“If I want to, I can’t go play in the NBA – not even Stefan Struve’s big ass,” Diaz said. “He can’t go play in the NBA if he wants to because he feels like making a change. For a publicity thing? They wouldn’t pay him no money, and they wouldn’t even let him play. It’s ridiculous.
“I don’t think you should just let some millionaire WWE guy just come on over and play a little game, like have fun with his career. I’m over here busting my ass, fighting for 10 years and doing my thing and having a serious job that I have to do for this. And this guy is going to come over and probably get paid more than everyone in the room.”
Of course, what’s done is done, and the UFC doesn’t seem likely to go back on its decision. For better or worse, Brooks’ signing has garnered significant interest from both MMA and mainstream media outlets alike, and no matter who he fights, his UFC debut is going to be must-see TV.
Diaz understands the need for the UFC to attract eyeballs, but he’s not sure this is the best way to do it.
“I’m sorry, but this guy’s making a joke out of my serious life and getting compensated more for it,” Diaz said. “I don’t mean no harm on him, but I don’t think it’s right.”
Check out the video above to hear more from Diaz on the deal.
Diaz (17-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) returns to action this weekend, when he faces Rafael dos Anjos (22-7 MMA, 11-5 UFC) at Saturday’s UFC on FOX 13 event, which takes place at Phoenix’s U.S. Airways Center and airs on FOX.