UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett moonlights as a pro wrestler, and has for years. He has a unique understanding of the parallels between pro wrestling and MMA, and in a recent MMA Hour interview, he gave his opinion on the UFC's signing of former WWE superstar CM Punk. In short, he's fine with it. But in typical Barnett fashion, he had to throw a little bit of trash talk at the experienced fighters that have called Punk out already before getting to his explanation:
"Okay dude, you've got like 30 fights and won like three little titles in other organizations and now you want to fight the guy with zero fights?" he asked. "Ooh, look how f---- badass you are."
"I am of the ilk that does not really believe this is that much of a sport and [is] more of an event.
He then expanded on why he believes MMA is as much entertainment as it is sport:
"At the end of the day, one has to take into account that if we don't have people's butts in the seats, you don't have people watching the events, you don't have anything. This isn't the kind of thing where we've got city money and we've got tax exemptions on it, we don't have any of that kind of stuff. This isn't that kind of a business. This is far more akin to the business of professional wrestling in terms of the models of how you make money. It's somewhat similar to boxing, not entirely, but some crossover in the way they make their money.
"There's a lot of sporting aspect to what we do. But in the end, sometimes we have to go out there and give the fights people want to see, because at the end of the day, if people aren't given what they want, they're not going to tune in at all, and then none of us will have a job."
How does he feel Punk, who has no previous fighting experience, will fare in the UFC?
"I'm sure they're doing a great job with him up at Roufusport, and I'm sure he's training very hard. I know he trained very hard to become the wrestler he is. So he's probably putting that effort right into his fight training. I really hope for the best for him."
Punk, real name Phil Brooks, hasn't set a firm timetable on when he will make his UFC debut as of yet but he has been leaning towards late 2015 as a starting point. Barnett (33-7) does not have a fight booked at the moment.