LAS VEGAS - UFC 181 was the 300th event in company history. It was also the first in which a former professional wrestler with no MMA experience got his own press conference.
Phil "CM Punk" Brooks was announced as the UFC's latest signee on Saturday night. The Chicago native and former World Wrestling Entertainment champion, who was wildly popular in wrestling circles, quit the WWE early this year.
He knows he's going to be instantly compared to the last pro wrestler to make his mark in the UFC, champion Brock Lesnar.
"Hey, Brock came in here and was the heavyweight champion," Brooks said. "If someone is going to compare me to Brock Lesnar, I'll take that."
Brooks, who is a brown belt in jiu-jitsu under Rener Gracie, understands the criticism which is going to come his way, as he's entering the company with no mixed martial arts experience.
"I'm coming into the world's biggest fighting organization with an 0-0 record," Brooks said. "I get it. ... Before I am done, everyone will respect me."
Brooks, who expects to fight at middleweight, can't make any promises on how his MMA foray will pan out. But he says the decision to move on to MMA and leave sports entertainment behind was an easy one.
"It was actually a really easy decision to make," he said. "Time will tell how wise of a decision it was. I'm excited. I finally feel there's something I can put 100 percent of myself into and I will get 100 percent back."
While Brooks will continue to work with Gracie, he says he's serious about finding a top-of-the-line gym to call his MMA home.
"I am considering them all," Brooks said. "I need to go somewhere that's best for me. Being the WWE guy, I've been in gyms across the county where I walk in and guys are like ‘hey, let's break the fake wrestler's arm.' And I just wanted to roll or sweat. So I have to make sure I'm comfortable with everybody."
No date or time is set for Brooks' debut fight. In the meantime, while he knows he's going to have critics on all sides, Harris is not going to do his best to let the criticism go in one ear and out the other.
"I'm going to stay the f-- off Twitter," Brooks said. Later, he added. "Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. Choose a path and work towards it to the best of your abilities."