Mike Jackson vows to knock out CM Punk in Saturday’s hometown showdown

Arguably the most controversial bout in MMA today is set to take place this weekend as Mike Jackson (0-1) takes on Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks (0-1) at UFC 225. The controversy stemming from the fact that the two competitors with losing records have a place on the pay-per-view portion of the biggest card of the year.

To the majority of the audience, neither man deserves to be in this spot. In the eyes of Jackson, a long journey through martial arts warranted this shot and, when an opportunity to fight a relative newcomer in Brooks is presented on the big show, that chance to shine is just too good to turn down.

“I’ve been in this game for decade now,” Mike explained to Sean Sheehan on The Severe MMA Podcast Premium. “I’m a good friend of Mick Maynard. Going back, I met him when I fought on Lone Star 6 and he was the promoter. Throughout that time we’ve remained friends. For me it’s all about building maintaining the right relationships.

“Outside of that, I’ve built my brand in ‘Mike The Truth’ entertainment and being a media personality. As far as fighting goes, I’ve been training and fighting for ten years. I had a little bit of a background as a kid in boxing, but never competed in it. Then once I found MMA I fell in love with it immediately.

“I decided to compete a couple times and won the Golden Gloves out here in Houston before deciding to go professional. I started doing more boxing and kickboxing. I wanted to eventually compete in MMA because it was sport that I love so much as well as cover and I think that, being in the position I was in, I needed to fight at least once and stay active in the scene. I love the striking arts. I’m undefeated in boxing with four wins, all by knockout. I’ve a few knockouts in kickboxing, too.

“Getting to the UFC was more of a right place, right time situation through knowing the right people,” Jackson divulged. “I was offered a fight and I thought, who doesn’t want to make their professional MMA debut in the UFC? It was a no-brainer for me. Obviously it didn’t go my way the first time, but with the personality and the way I’m able to market and sell a fight, it made sense to give me a go again with this fight.”

While on his journey through multiple martial arts, a run in the UFC admittedly was never on the list of goals for Mike Jackson. His lifestyle through his love for striking arts and positioning in media saw his love for MMA grow outside of the cage rather than in it.

Despite eventually giving it a go for his own curiosity, the reality of fighting somewhere as glamorous as the UFC never crossed his mind.

“I never really had aspirations,” Mike revealed. “Coming from a media mindset, to ever compete and make it to the UFC. I’ve always had a great relationship with LFA. My goal was to get some fights under their banner. I do a lot for them in the form of social media, videography and photography. I’ve only ever fought because I love to fight. I wasn’t doing it to become a champion. I just did it because I wanted to, but if someone offers you a debut in the UFC, the way I see it, nobody turns that down. I don’t care who they are.”

February 6th, 2016 marked the date of Jackson’s MMA debut as he stepped up to fight fellow UFC debutant Mickey Gall (4-1). The winner would earn the right to have the spotlight shined upon their next bout versus CM Punk.

However, Gall would go on to defeat the former in less than one minute by TKO and subsequently defeat CM Punk in his next bout. For Jackson, this fight didn’t pan out the way he expected or liked. In Mike’s view, the result panned out the way it did for good reason.

“Not to make excuses,” Jackson stated. “The Mickey Gall fight was taken on very short notice. Prior to that, I’d taken about eight weeks off from training and was letting a nagging injury heal, per the doctor’s orders. As soon as the eight weeks was up, I was planning to get back into training and have one or two fights that year.

“I’d trained a few times that week, then the Saturday morning I get this phone call, saying they had a great opportunity for me. It wasn’t presented as a fight in the UFC, though. It was presented as an opportunity on a Legacy card with the winner facing CM Punk in the UFC. Even then I was hesitant because I’d only just got back to it.

“It was then when it became a fight in the UFC. In that short period of time, training was treated as a crash course. Even prior to the injury, I was training far more striking than anything else, so my complete game wasn’t there.

“I simply wasn’t prepared for Mickey Gall and worried about the takedown, given his brown belt in BJJ. I let that worry me. Luckily this is now a completely different fight.”

While both Jackson and Punk share identical records, the striker feels his overall game from ten-plus years of experience is nothing that Brooks can match in his short time of training. Granted Jackson’s grappling and wrestling may not be that of a UFC star’s, he feels it still far ahead than that of what Punk has reached thus far.

“Tape watching is not a factor for me,” Mike told. “I’m going in to do my thing and impose my will. I can’t worry about what Phil is doing. I know people want to look at this and think, ‘Oh, Punk lasted longer than you did against Mickey.’ If that’s how you want to perceive it, that’s fine, but we’ve seen what he’s capable of doing in the training videos and the fight itself.

“What people fail to realise is that, in this sport of fighting, you can only get so good at something is a short space of time. Then you also have to factor in his age, wear and tear on his body and outside situations like his lawsuits and whatever else there may be.

“On top of that, he’s not even an athlete. He’s just a tough guy. As far as his wrestling training, he wasn’t a Brock Lesnar or a Bobby Lashley who was able to come into this sport and improve quickly. He’s a guy who’s came in to train early and stayed late, trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible. It may take a top-tier athlete a day to learn something in MMA, but for Phil it’s going to take five to ten days.

“In this short window, he can only get so good. He’s had so many factors that people aren’t recognised because they don’t know the sport. I do. His game plan is going to be to wrestle me. One-hundred percent.

“He has a great coach behind him in Duke Roufus, but I know for a fact they’re telling him not to stand with me. He physically cannot stand with me because he’s going to get knocked out.

“He’s going to go for the takedown and even though that’s his sort of strength, his strength can’t overcome the strength of my wrestling. My jiu jitsu is solid as is my counter-wrestling and my striking is lightyears ahead of his.”

Dating back to December 2014 when the UFC announced CM Punk’s signature had been inked on a UFC contract, Mike had no ill will towards to former professional wrestler. In fact, he found it commendable for Punk to take such a chance in the home of the elite. He commends the business side of what Punk has been able to do, but feels the result on Saturday will not differ from his first outing in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I remember when they announced Punk was transitioning and I thought, ‘Good for him.’ Who am I to shit on this man’s dreams? He has goals that he plans to accomplish and whether or not he ever planned to become champion, I think this is something he just wanted to try out. It’s not my position to say what he can and can’t do.

“It’s a catch-22. He has this ‘Cult of Personality’ that they call him and you have this huge following. You can’t go and fight as an amateur because you’re going to get exploited. You’re going to fight for free as they won’t pay you at amateur. You’d be bringing all of this attention to this small promotion and not make a cent from it. That makes no sense.

“You can’t fight on a Legacy or Bellator show because they can’t afford you or your value. Now, he could’ve taken lesser money, but he’s a businessman who knows how the game works. If you’re going to put yourself in harms way, you’re going to go to the UFC and want to maximise your income.

“This is where the catch lies. You’re in the UFC and they can’t put you in there with someone who’s just on your skill level because that makes no sense. It just so happened that Dana White was doing his ‘Lookin’ For a Fight’ show and come across this Mickey Gall kid with a brown belt in BJJ in the same weight class, calling out CM Punk. You have to capitalise on that for both of em and it didn’t work out for Phil, as expected.”

Approaching this fight, CM Punk has stated how much his overall game has improved and, with UFC 225 playing host in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, Punk feels that the hometown factor is something that Jackson will not be able to topple. Mike, however, begs to differ. His experience of boxing and kickboxing in many a foreign territory has led to him to believe that it’s all just an aura and nothing more. Come Saturday night, Mike plans to shut down that factor and shatter the dreams of the ‘Cult of Personality.’

“The funny thing about this was that, when this was being signed up, they made it seem like this hometown crowd would be something I could not prepare for. I remember in my second fight, I fought in Louisiana on a Dustin Poirier undercard. It was a setting for ten thousand people. I enjoy being in front of a crowd and thrive off it.

“Even though it’s a hometown arena, the fans for each guy are sort of scattered throughout the place. I had family there, but for the most part it was a different territory. Sure, this is going to be very supportive of Punk given his celebrity and Chicago status, but here’s the thing: they can’t fight with or for him. He can’t tag anyone in. It’s just going to be me and him.

“I can’t let the boos and the personality of CM Punk affect me in anyway and he’s going to get knocked out this Saturday. He’s not on my level and I’m far superior. I’ve been around too long for him to get as good as I am. They say go big or go home, well, he’s already at home.”

You can listen to the full podcast with Mike Jackson on The Severe MMA Podcast Premium.