When CM Punk announced his signing with the UFC, he said he’d prefer to continue going by that name, the one he gained fame under in the world of professional wrestling.
Punk, the former WWE champion, has said in interviews that the only people who call him by his birth name of Phil Brooks are those close to him. He’s been known as CM Punk for years and isn’t going to stop now in MMA.
Mike Jackson, though, is not buying it.
Jackson fights Punk in both of their second pro fights at UFC 225 on June 9 in Chicago, and he does not plan on calling the former pro wrestling star anything except for “Phil”.
“His mama call him Phil, I’m gonna call him Phil,” Jackson told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
Jackson, 33, said he’s not trying to be disrespectful toward Punk. He just isn’t going to abide by his wishes in this case. “CM Punk”, Jackson said, is a wrestling name.
“That’s his name — Phil Brooks,” Jackson said. “The whole CM Punk thing, I guess he’s trying to bring that gimmick over from the professional wrestling. Look, the CM Punk guy, he’s dying June 9 at UFC 225 in his hometown of Chicago.”
The way this fight has come together has been interesting. CM Punk announced his signing with the UFC in late 2014, months after a rocky end to his WWE career. In February 2016, the UFC set up a bout between Mickey Gall and Jackson to determine who would be Punk’s first opponent. Gall won via rear-naked choke submission in just 45 seconds to earn the spot.
Gall, a legitimate prospect, went on to face CM Punk at UFC 203 in September 2016, beating the former WWE top guy with the same choke in 2:14.
Since the UFC agreed to give Punk a second try in the Octagon, Jackson has been campaigning to get the shot he believes he should have gotten in the first place, because of his ability to sell a fight. Both Jackson and Punk are 0-1 in MMA now.
“Vince McMahon could not have written a better storyline,” Jackson said.
“The redemption story of CM Punk being ended by ‘The Truth’ at UFC 225.”
Jackson, who trains out of Houston with the likes of Derrick Lewis, will be going into a hostile environment at the United Center. CM Punk is a crowd favorite in his hometown of Chicago. When the WWE runs shows there, the fans still chant “CM Punk!” even though he hasn’t performed as a pro wrestler in more than four years.
“I’m expecting a sort of hostile crowd,” Jackson said. “But again, those people aren’t gonna be in the cage with Phil. They can boo me all they want to. Actually, I enjoy the boos.”
The goal for “The Truth” Jackson? To turn those fans around. Jackson, who is an undefeated boxer, is trying to build his own brand as a photographer, personality and entertainer outside of the cage and ring. He sees CM Punk as a stepping stone.
“The main objective here is to build the Mike ‘The Truth’ entertainment brand,” Jackson said. “That’s what we’re here about. So, although I know I’m gonna be walking out to a lot of boos, eventually I want to turn those fans over and bring them to ‘The Truth’ side.”