Though the UFC’s signing of Phil Brooks — better known by his pro wrestling handle of CM Punk — has been polarizing for some MMA fans, gyms around the country have been vocal via social media in inviting him to join their teams.
One such recruiter was none other than newly crowned welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, who reached out to CM Punk on Twitter after he took the belt from Johny Hendricks at UFC 181. Lawler invited him to join American Top Team down in Coconut Creek, Florida.
"Hey @cmpunk everyone doubted me too. I moved down to @americantopteam and proved them wrong. Come here and do the same," he tweeted on Dec. 8, two days after winning the title.
On Monday, Lawler appeared on The MMA Hour and explained himself. He said that having CM Punk at ATT would not only be a boon for his team, but also a good place for Brooks get some MMA know-how.
"Obviously CM Punk is a really big draw for the UFC," Lawler told Ariel Helwani. "He’s going to bring a lot of eyes to the UFC, and the better he does the better it’ll be for all MMA fighter as far as sponsorships and stuff. I just think if he comes down to American Top Team he can prove a lot of people wrong. Obviously he’s an athlete, now we just have to figure out if he can fight, and I think that American Top Team will be a good fit for him."
CM Punk – who has trained jiu-jitsu off and on with Rener Gracie in California for the last couple of years -- doesn’t have a fight yet on the horizon yet, and he’s not sure if he’ll compete as a middleweight or a welterweight (though he suspects the former).
At a UFC 181 press conference, the 36-year old Brooks said that he was considering all gyms currently, particularly ones that would take him out of his comfort zone and challenge him. Though he wants to be baptized by fire in the world of MMA, he also stressed that, as a resident of Chicago, ideally he’d like to stay in the vicinity.
Though he also said that if he found the right gym he would either buy a condo or rent a place for his training. Gyms such as Firas Zahabi’s Tristar in Montreal have said they would welcome Brooks in with open arms. Lawler said that you can add ATT to that list, as well.
Asked if he had any problem with the UFC signing CM Punk, who has never competed in a professional MMA bout, Lawler no.
"I think it’ll be good," he said. "I think the UFC’s done a great job of building the brand, building the UFC, building MMA. It was very calculated, but I think that they’re continuing to build a better UFC."