After his unanimous-decision win over Phil “CM Punk” Brooks at UFC 225 on Saturday night, Mike Jackson came in for harsh criticism from UFC President Dana White. Was it justified, or just shifting the blame? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss in this week’s Trading Shots.
* * * *
Downes: Ben, it looks like the CM Punk experiment is over. Saturday night at UFC 225, the former professional wrestling star lost his second fight in the organization and second fight overall. He showed a lot of toughness and heart, but seemed entirely outclassed in his fight against Mike “The Truth” Jackson.
If you think I’m here so we can dunk on Mr. Punk, you’d be sadly mistaken. Instead, I want to discuss on our favorite promoter, Dana White.
When asked if he’ll give Punk another chance inside the UFC, White said, “No, it should be a wrap. The guy’s 39 years old. We gave him two shots, and he had a lot of heart tonight, and I think he should call it a wrap.”
Nothing too controversial there. When it came to Jackson, though, the tone was entirely different.
“Michael Jackson I’m not happy with. This guy was acting like a goofball tonight. You get this opportunity to fight CM Punk, and you’re doing, like, bolo punches to the body on top. … I don’t know what that guy did for a living before we gave him the shot, but whatever it was, he needs to go back and do that again. He’s 0-2 as far as I’m concerned.”
As we all know, Dana White places a lot of importance on subtlety and sportsmanship. If there’s one thing he will not tolerate, it’s uncouth behavior. Nah, we both know that’s not true.
But what do you make of White’s reaction to all this? By trashing Jackson, do you think he’s just trying to bury the bodies for his shameless cash grab I mean combat sports experiment?
Fowlkes: Seems pretty clear what’s happening. White and the UFC wanted Punk because of the extra pay-per-view buys he’d bring. In his first fight they made the mistake of giving him a legit, though still relatively green pro. They weren’t going to make that mistake again in the second fight, which is the only reason Jackson got another shot in the UFC.
They were hoping he’d be bad enough that Punk might actually have a chance to win and therefore keep this whole thing going. They were wrong.
So now we’re looking for someone to blame and UFC executives aren’t about to point that finger at themselves. Must be Jackson’s fault. Why didn’t he put Punk away? Why was he “showboating”? We brought him in to lose – twice – and he has the audacity to act like he’s good? Forget that guy. He’s done here. Matter of fact, he didn’t even really win. According to White, Jackson will be seen as winless in the UFC, even after clearly winning.
What White is really mad about is that Jackson’s performance exposed this whole Punk thing as an obvious farce. The UFC was never interested in Jackson. Even if he’d knocked Punk out in the first round, it’s not like this was somebody the UFC was looking to invest time and energy into. He’s just not at that level as a fighter, and no one should really expect him to be, given his experience.
Still, somehow Punk gets the atta-boy points just for being willing to try (while making a ton of money in the process) and Jackson gets scorched for racking up 30-26 scorecards on him at a fraction of the price.
What, we’re mad that Jackson lacked a sense of urgency? That he beat Punk up without putting him away? Because I don’t know if that’s a standard we’re willing to apply across the board.
If you’re mad that a fight between two guys who aren’t at the UFC level ended up being of a quality that wasn’t at the UFC level, seems to me the people whom we should blame are the ones who put it together with full knowledge of what this was, right?
Downes: It’s another example of Dana White punching down. In one way, it’s the path of least resistance. If he goes after Punk, he knows that Punk would hit back and talk about how having him fight in the UFC was all White’s idea. He could also try justify the whole experiment and say it wasn’t a cash grab. He’s used to lying, but even he knows that would be too much of a stretch.
What leverage does Jackson have? None. Trash him on the way out, bury the bodies and count the money. In a few years, Punk will sit along with James Toney as a footnote in UFC history. What’s the real harm?
I mean that seriously. Did Toney vs. Randy Couture irreparably harm the UFC? Has “UFC Fighter” CM Punk changed your opinion of the organization? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t call BS when promoters lie to us. If it smells like a farce and looks like a farce, we should call it a farce.
At the same time, though, aren’t the same people criticizing the UFC benefitting from it here? I would imagine that the traffic (and subsequent money generated) on MMA websites has benefitted from Punk’s fame. The same way I bet they’ll criticize Colby Covington’s act, but not go so far as to not profit off it.
What was lost in Michelle Wolf’s White House Correspondents Dinner routine was her criticism of cable news media profiting off their Trump outrage. They hate what they created. How is this any different?
Fowlkes: I’m glad you brought up former three-division boxing champ James Toney. It serves as a useful counter-example.
How Toney got into the UFC was, he showed up to press conferences and pestered White in public. He demanded the kind of crossover fight that would later break the bank for Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather, only he did it under MMA rules. The UFC gave him what he wanted, and also gave him a fellow former champ in Couture, who was, at least in terms of age, a peer.
Couture thumped him easily, but it was still a somewhat interesting experiment. Toney was a great fighter; he just wasn’t an MMA fighter.
That’s not what this Punk thing was. This was a sports-adjacent entertainer with no combat sports background. But the UFC came calling, he decided he’d give it a try (and why not, when you’re making about as much money to dabble in MMA as the UFC heavyweight champ is making to dominate it), and the UFC couldn’t stop telling us how courageous he was for doing so.
I’m not sure what you want the media to do there. What, just totally ignore the UFC’s attempt at an MMA version of celebrity boxing? For the most part, we called it what it was before, during, and after. Even now, when White is laying it all on Jackson, we’re calling him out for it and refusing to let him shift the narrative.
But if the UFC decides to have a Kardashian fight in the women’s bantamweight division next, yeah, we’re probably going to cover that. And yeah, people would probably pay to see it, at least once. The best we can do is tell them what they should expect for their money beforehand, and then afterwards remind them where that money ended up when it turned out to be a big joke.
Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.
- Charles Oliveira insists on featherweight return after UFC 225 despite historic win at lightweight
- With loss to Elkins in mind, Mirsad Bektic wanted Lamas fight to show 'championship material'
- Dana White says fighters want afternoon weigh-ins back – and nothing they say can convince him otherwise
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Trading Shots: In bashing Mike Jackson for his performance against CM Punk, is Dana White looking to shift the blame?