Demetrious Johnson calls CM Punk’s massive UFC paydays ‘a big spit in the face of all the champions’

Demetrious Johnson calls CM Punk's massive UFC paydays 'a big spit in the face of all the champions'

CM Punk’s UFC run was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

In 2016, the Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, attempted to follow in the footsteps of Brock Lesnar, transitioning from the world of sports entertainment to mixed martial arts. Unfortunately, he failed to replicate the success of the former UFC heavyweight champion, getting absolutely manhandled by Mickey Gall in his Octagon debut at UFC 203.

CM Punk vs. Mikey Gall

Punk returned two years later only to lose a unanimous decision against Mike Jackson, though the result was ultimately overturned to a no-contest after Jackson tested positive for marijuana.

Despite failing to light up the Octagon like he often does the wrestling ring, CM Punk was heavily compensated for his pair of lackluster showings. Punk’s disclosed payout for each fight was a cool $500,000, though a report from Bloody Elbow (before being sold and stripped down to a shell of what it once was) revealed that the ‘Second City Saint’ actually banked more than a million dollars per appearance.

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CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson

In the middle of a history-making run during Punk’s brief stint, former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson was understandably frustrated once learning of Punk’s bloated fight purses. But instead of letting it eat away at him, ‘Mighty Mouse’ chose to use it as motivation.

“A big spit in the face of all the champions,” Johnson said of Punk’s UFC payouts on his YouTube channel. “At the end of the day, it’s more of a popularity contest that gets you the money in mixed martial arts than actual skill.

“A gentleman who is 0-1 in mixed martial arts, making $500,000 [per fight]. Obviously, he made that money because of his wrestling history. I’m not gonna lie to you guys, this put a chip on my shoulder, and a bad taste in my mouth because I was doing mixed martial arts my whole entire life and the most I ever made in the UFC was like $380,000 plus $40,000. It’s all public record” (h/t MMA Mania).

Demetrious Johnson looks back on CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson

“These guys belong in the amateur league,” Johnson said while rewatching Brooks vs. Mike Jackson. “They haven’t honed their skills enough yet in mixed martial arts to be on a platform like this. Every once in a while, you have these fights where you give people an opportunity to do something, and this is what you get. This belongs in an amateur-level fight [league]. But I bet CM Punk beats him in WWE wrestling.”

Now 37 years old, Demetrious Johnson is still one of the greatest fighters on the planet. Sent to ONE Championship as part of a historic trade in 2018, ‘Mighty Mouse’ has gone 5-1 inside the Circle, including a flyweight title-winning performance against Adriano Moraes at ONE on Prime Video 1 in August 2022. He has since successfully defended the title, closing out his trilogy with Moraes at ONE Fight Night 10 during the promotion’s critically acclaimed U.S. debut.

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Demetrious Johnson in ONE Championship

Recently, Johnson returned to the mat at the 2024 IBJJF Pan Championships in Florida. There, he took first place in the Master 2 featherweight division before adding a silver medal in the openweight tournament. Along the way, ‘Mighty Mouse’ earned a victory over a 6’3″, 250-pound competitor, proving that when it comes to jiu-jitsu, size truly does not matter.