Lately reactions from UFC fighters to CM Punk's long awaited debut have been muted. As the UFC 203 PPV draws near a lot of the early criticism that followed the former WWE star when he announced his UFC jump has faded away. Maybe that's just a measure of the amount of time it took from signing to fight. Spend close to two years prepping and training for your MMA debut and people get a little more curious, and perhaps a little less critical.
UFC shoulder programming hasn't hurt either, painting Punk as something of an "every-man" (albeit a rich one) working hard to pursue his dream. However you slice it, it seems that former UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir isn't buying it (transcript via MMA Fighting).
"I'm gonna be honest, it pisses me off." Mir told listeners on his Phone Booth Fighting podcast. "I don't like it. I'm trying to be impartial and not be a dick but the more we talk about this the more I'm getting angry at the situation because it's bullsh*t. This is not a legitimate fight. This is not a legitimate UFC fight. We have these kind of fights in boxing ... they have those celebrity matchups where it's a name guy that shouldn't be in there getting in there with somebody that has a novelty to it and people might turn it on for the novelty act behind it but you wouldn't have it on the undercard of a Mayweather fight. They wouldn't put those two together and the fact that we are putting that on there doesn't sit well with me.
"We want to be in New York and we want to be legitimate and we want to be even with boxing and have that kind of credibility, and boxing wouldn't do this. I mean, they do do this but they don't put it on the same card with their championship fights."
And it's not just the "novelty" aspect that has Mir questioning the move to bring CM Punk to the UFC. He's seen the training footage and his read on it isn't exactly encouraging.
"I hope that CM is just a mastermind at psychological warfare and that he's purposefully putting this kind of footage out there to lull [Gall] down to make it to where [he] gets comfortable, to where [he thinks] maybe CM is not gonna be that good of a fighter. Watching him fight, I felt like I was down at the gym watching just normal guys that have no ambition to be fighters, just taking the class. I've seen some of the women taking the aerobic kickboxing class move better," said Mir.
That said, Mir did acknowledge the business sense of the UFC's decision, and their hopes to create crossover appeal to pro wrestling fans who might either want to watch Punk actually win in the UFC (if he can), or who might stick around and become MMA fans even if he loses.
How many pro-wrestling fans there are out there who have yet to give MMA a try? That's anyone's guess. However it's fair to assume that the novelty of seeing CM Punk's first UFC fight will draw more than a few eyes.
Mir is currently under temporary suspension as he awaits the final results of a USADA investigation into his failed drug test surrounding a March 20th fight against Mark Hunt.