CM Punk’s UFC debut in the Octagon went terribly for the former WWE superstar. But it didn’t end too badly for him on the paycheck side: Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, pocketed a disclosed $500,000 for his two minute beatdown, plus a percentage of pay-per-view profits. That’s left some other UFC fighters outraged that a beginner would make so much.
But when you learn just how many PPVs the UFC sold, you see why the promotion was willing to put so many zeros on Punk’s paycheck. MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi revealed that the card is trending to sell between 650,000 to 700,000 buys.
Lest you think a bunch of people were tuning in to see the heavyweight title fight between Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem, the PPV where Miocic took the title off Werdum only pulled 350,000 buys, and that was with a packed undercard featuring Vitor Belfort, Shogun Rua, Cris Cyborg, and more. UFC 203’s numbers seem to indicate that CM Punk is more of a draw than even pound for pound great Jon Jones, whose last fight earned 425,000 buys.
Leading up to UFC 203, Wrestling Observer reporter and pay-per-view numbers guru Dave Meltzer predicted “Anything over 270K is because of Punk. Because I was looking at this and I was thinking this is probably, you know, 250-300ish, right? Probably below 300K when you take Punk out. So if it does 400K, then Punk was a hell of a draw. … If somehow it does 500K, then I completely underestimated the pro wrestling audience.”
Following the short and uncompetitive fight, UFC president Dana White said CM Punk “probably shouldn’t have his next fight in the UFC.” Will pay-per-view numbers possibly surpassing 700,000 be enough to make him reconsider his stance on Punk fighting at one of their events again? Or is this a case where there’s probably no more draw now that we know he can’t really fight?