Former pro wrestler CM Punk (real name Phil Brooks) has been doing the MMA media rounds since this past weekend's shock announcement that he has signed with the UFC and is set to compete some time next year.
Fans, fighters and media members alike have been heatedly debating and discussing Punk's signing since the news broke and yesterday Brooks gave his response to some of the reactions he's been seeing and/or hearing.
"I'm more surprised at the volume of positive tweets and comments, especially from a lot of the fighters," Punk told FOX Sports. "I think that is very telling. It's very awesome.
"I'm very friendly with a lot of the fighters, so when Daniel Cormier tweets something positive about me that doesn't necessarily shock me. It makes me feel awesome. But somebody like Robbie Lawler... I've never met Robbie Lawler, I've been a fan of his for a very long time and for him to tweet me, 'Hey, people doubted me too. They're going to doubt you, just do your thing,' it means a lot to me."
The main criticism of Punk's signing by the UFC has been that he has no previous martial arts competition experience to speak of. Obviously he is a huge name and should bring a big cross-over audience to the sport of MMA, but is still probably not deserving of a spot in the sport's premier league with an 0-0 MMA record.
But Punk is honest and a realist, and doesn't necessarily disagree with the critics.
"I'm not really going to say that I do deserve it," he said. "I think time will tell whether I deserve it or not. I think respect has to be earned, not just given. I understand the perspective of a lot of the fighters. Some of them are just trying to jump on the bandwagon too - call names, pick fights. That's what they're supposed to do, that's the fight game and I appreciate that. So I just roll with the punches, I take all the positive stuff and leave all the negative stuff behind."
He added: "There's a big chance I fall flat on my face on this and, obviously, it'll be in front of the entire world but that's never stopped me from attempting anything. You're talking to a man who crapped himself on national television before. So I'm ready to be embarrassed if it comes to that."
Phil quit professional wrestling earlier this year, one of the driving factors behind his decision being that he felt he was being mistreated by the organisation he wrestled under, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).Â
Speaking on how his experience has been working with the UFC thus far, Punk seems much happier on his new career path.
"So far, I've been treated the way I feel I should be treated here in the UFC. I know it's still early, and I know I'm probably being afforded things that maybe other people wouldn't be because of my name value or who I am or whatnot. I have zero complaints, I don't foresee any complaining coming."
His friend and supporter Daniel Cormier is set to challenge UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones for his title at UFC 182 on January 3rd in the most highly-anticipated grudge match in recent memory. Although he joked that he might not be the most qualified individual to analyse the upcoming bout, Brooks still offered his prediction.Â
"I'm excited, I will hopefully be there," said Punk. "That's an awesome fight. Jon Jones is a spectacular fighter, he's kind of spearheaded this new-school movement in MMA where he's just so well-rounded. He does different things and he's more evolved than a lot of people. I think it's going to be a challenge for DC but I think DC's going to be able to grind it out.Â
"I think both guys are trying to finish each other, there's a lot of bad blood... but when it comes to wrestling I think DC has that edge. I think he'll be able to control where the fight goes and that's how he'll win."
While on the subject of fight predictions, Punk also gave his thoughts on this coming weekend's heavyweight contest between Stipe Miocic and former heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos at UFC on FOX 13:Â "I think, if I had to put money on it, my brain says 'Dos Santos' but my heart says 'Stipe'. I'm a fan of Stipe, I'd like to see him pull it out."