(Esther Lin/MMAFighting)High Risk, High Reward: The CM Punk Lottery Jay Anderson December 13, 2014 News, Spotlight Cathal Pendred says he has won the lottery. And if he does in fact turn out to be the first man in the UFC to fight Phil “CM Punk” Brooks in the octagon, he may, in fact, be right. Pendred posted the following to Twitter on the morning of December 10th, though it wasn’t picked up on until later in the day. This punk is going to be ‘one & done’ in the UFC. It looks like I will be that one. #JustWonTheLotterypic.twitter.com/KVvwe2WXqE — Cathal Pendred (@PendredMMA) December 10, 2014 What’s missing from that hash tag?: “may have.” As in, #MayHaveJustWonTheLottery. Pendred went on to claim that the fight would be part of a stadium show in Ireland in July, headlined by Conor McGregor, presumably against Jose Aldo — should McGregor make it past Dennis Siver in January. Now, these tweets may simply be wishful thinking on the part of Pendred, but the concept does make a certain amount of sense: this would be a huge event, a stadium show running off the star power of the sky-rocketing McGregor, but to really “move the needle” (to use a term the MMA world now seems to have fallen in love with), the addition of another big name would be required. Punk, despite having absolutely no MMA experience outside rolling in the gym, could easily be that name. And for both fans in attendance and fans watching overseas, this would be the perfect situation. Pendred has a name simply by having been on The Ultimate Fighter and being part of McGregor’s camp, but he’s not selling any PPV buys on his own. McGregor is pretty gosh darn popular these days, or so we’ve heard, on both sides of the pond, and can definitely sell tickets, but there’s a five hour time difference between Ireland and North America, and U.S. fans might need an added reason to settle down in front of their television sets early (assuming this does, in fact, go down on PPV, and not as part of a Fox card). Punk gives them that reason and then some. The casuals tune in, the pro wrestling fans tune in, the hardcore MMA fans tune in — even if they’re all for entirely different reasons. Whether they want Brooks to succeed or fail, however, there’s a good chance they will tune in. So it’s a safe bet for the UFC, if there’s truth to it. Frankly, where there’s smoke, there’s fire: we learned that from the Punk signing itself. As to Pendred’s statement that he has won the lottery, again, it’s a may have. Not just as to whether the fight takes place, either. Frankly, this is a high risk, high reward situation. If Pendred were to beat Phil Brooks, known to pro wrestling and comic book audiences as CM Punk (not to mention many others due to the massive amount of media exposure he has had thanks to his move to the UFC), sure, he would be beating a guy who is 0-0 in his professional MMA career, but he’d still be beating a name. He’d be known to fans as the guy who beat CM Punk, and while it may be a spectacle fight, it would still be the biggest fight of Pendred’s young career. On the flip side, however, is the risk. Were Pendred to lose, he’d then be the guy who lost to an unheralded fighter with no octagon experience. While Punk has a name from his pro wrestling days, much of the MMA world doesn’t take him seriously at this point, if we’re being honest. Pendred is a promising talent; a loss in this bout could set his UFC progress back a fair bit. It’s not as if he’s looking at a cut, but in terms of star power, well — a loss means you’re always going to be the guy who lost to a “fake fighter.” Now, the fly in the ointment in this whole scenario is that Pendred is not a 1-1, 2-1 guy, the type of guy Dana White claimed Punk would be put in with — but you should probably take that claim with a big grain of salt. Punk doesn’t have a lot of time to make a go of this MMA run, and Pendred, while having over 15 professional bouts, has just two in the UFC. It might be enough of a balance for the UFC to say “hey, we can market this, and if Pendred wins, we’ll be able to give him a big push.” We should probably reserve judgement on the CM Punk experiment until it comes to pass; after all, fighters such as Ken Shamrock, Sakuraba, and Brock Lesnar actually made the transition from pro wrestling to MMA as well (though unlike Punk, they had amateur athletic backgrounds), but as far as a debut fight goes, Pendred needs to be careful that he doesn’t overlook his opponent. In short, he hasn’t won the lottery just yet.