The second episode (or the first if you don't include the pilot) of UFC's latest reality television series, 'Lookin' For a Fight,' was released yesterday on Fight Pass, which sees the same trio from the pilot–Dana White, Nick 'The Tooth' Gullo and Matt Serra–visit Philadelphia and New Jersey in search of fresh talent.
If you can cast your minds back to September, the pilot episode served as the perfect teaser for the debut of lightweight sensation Sage Northcutt. This time around, the episode served as the perfect buffer to CM Punk's MMA debut, which is rumored to be happening at the promotion's marquee event, UFC 200.
There was ample excitement and speculation surrounding the announcement that the 37-year-old former WWE superstar would make the transition to the Octagon. As soon as Punk made his declaration of intent, the MMA world immediately spewed their reactions all over social media threads. It was one of the most talked about stories when it first emerged, but having initially stapled the date for his debut as sometime in 2015, the eagerness of the fan base has dwindled for the Chicago native's UFC bow.
Regardless on what your stance is on professional wrestling is, there were plenty of reasons to be intrigued about the former WWE champion's emergence in MMA.
The fact that his popularity will nearly guarantee him a place on the main card despite his relative lack of skill is interesting. Due to the difference in caliber between Punk and the rest of the UFC roster, it will be hard for the promotion to find a good slot to put the fight in on the card because you would expect that the disparity between the debutant and established fighters will be quite evident. It is this factor that has some MMA fans worried that Punk's debut will damage the sport if it is given a large spotlight.
From a business point of view, Punk's debut should provide a crossover with the WWE's audience who UFC hope will tune in to see the polarizing superstar make his debut. Although CM Punk does not have a functional pre-existing skillset for MMA like Brock Lesner had when he crossed over, UFC could get similar record-breaking numbers as the former heavyweight champion brought in with CM Punk.
After teasing fans on January 2 via social media in relation to UFC 200, many believe the July event at the all new MGM Stadium would be the perfect time for Punk to enter the fray.
If 'Lookin' For a Fight' intended to reignite some of the intrigue ahead of CM Punk's debut, they knocked it out of the park.
Some fans can lose their minds debating minuscule details of the sport and the latest episode of 'Lookin' For a Fight' provided us with some good, wholesome, harmless and light fun, while also providing some legitimate talking points.
The 'Looking For a Fight' trio have good chemistry on camera and they have their fair share of fun throughout the episode as they "hit the ice with the Philadelphia Flyers, sample world-famous Philly cheesesteaks, and hit the famed beaches of the Jersey shore," as the press-release outlines. One of the most captivating moments of the episode for me personally was seeing White's enthusiasm and fascination with making taffy, which was strangely endearing for some reason.
While that was all well and good, the real meat of the episode came from debuting-pro Mickey Gall, who wasted no time in impressing White following his first round rear-naked-choke win over fellow debutant Ron Templeton at Dead Serious 17.
"Hey Dana White, I don't know if CM Punk has an opponent, but I would love to fight that man, CM Punk," Gall roared out to the Philadelphia crowd.
White couldn't hide how impressed he was with the initiative the 23-year-old displayed through his post-fight interview and the UFC president revealed that he was "interested" in pursuing Gall's plea.
It was a very clever way to poke the flames around Punk's debut. While most fight organizations often use the same recipe of putting well-regarded figures from the community spitting superlatives about who ever is fighting has become commonplace, the same setups cannot be used for the former pro-wrestler whose skillset remains a mystery apart from some sound bites from his coach Duke Roufus.
Gall's callout of CM Punk could potentially answer one of the most deliberated questions surrounding his debut–who is he going to fight?
White, Serra and Gullo found another man that was handed a UFC contract after making a big impression on the episode in undefeated 25-year-old Jamaican Randy Brown. Despite Serra being in the corner of his opponent and fellow up-and-comer Robert Plotkin, Brown's victory via knee in the first round to claim the Ring of Combat welterweight title definitely got the attention of White and Co.
"I'll tell you this, I'm interested, so you'll probably hear from me," White told Brown backstage after the fight. True to his word, it was announced yesterday that Brown will make his UFC debut at UFC on FOX 18 on January 30 where he will look to make it seven wins in as many pro outings against Matt Dwyer.
Given that White stayed true to his with Brown, it might add some more substance to Gall potentially being offered a crack at CM Punk.