One of the biggest stories in combat sports/sports entertainment has been the impact the YouTube-ing Paul brothers have had on the business. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Logan and especially Jake have sold millions of PPVs and started a trend of celebrity matches that have reinvigorated boxing.
Many, including my man Geno Mrosko, have pointed out that the Pauls are essentially using the tricks of the pro wrestling trade. It’s why during his appearance this week on ESPN SportsNation, current AEW wrestler and former UFC fighter CM Punk was asked what he though about the brothers’ success.
His answer probably won’t surprise you:
“I think everything’s entertainment. I think some people conflate being a fighter with being an entertainer, but when it makes dollars, it makes sense. And what the Paul brothers are doing, I think for the lack of a better term, it’s old school pro wrestling, right?
“This is stuff — you could say they’re crossing over, but there’s so many similarities between the two businesses. They command attention. People want to see them get knocked out, they know this, but they’re putting themselves out there. They’re putting themselves on the line. I’ll never criticize in a negative way or fashion anybody who makes the walk, anybody who trains their ass off. Because I did it and I know what it takes. And you put yourself out there, you put yourself on the line.
“A lot of the times — a lot of the sacrifice goes unnoticed. But it’s what it is. When [Floyd] Mayweather crossed over and did a match at WrestleMania, I’m sure we’re eventually going to see [Conor] McGregor come over... [Ronda] Rousey was excellent when she came over. The bottom line is making money. If you’re making money, you’re technically not really doing anything wrong.”
Nobody is going to argue with the “old school pro wrestling” part of this quote, but there will be those who bristle at the last line. But Punk’s take makes sense when you remember the main reason he got a second UFC fight is because he made the company money with his first one. Some purists won’t like that answer — but they probably didn’t like Punk’s foray into mixed martial arts, either.
More than his lopsided losses, the end of Punk’s career in the Octagon came because his second PPV appearance wasn’t a huge draw. That’s the lesson for Jake and Logan Paul. If they keep selling fights, they’ll keep getting them.
Check out Punk’s entire interview on SportsNation here.