Former WWE wrestler and new UFC signee CM Punk has spent his entire life proving people wrong in the wrestling world, and now that is his challenge in the world of mixed-martial-arts.
When CM Punk entered the world of professional wrestling, nobody thought he would be able to make it as a top guy in WWE. He was too small, he didn’t have the right look, and he was too full of himself. If you’ve seen CM Punk’s WWE documentary, you know that it’s somewhat of a miracle that CM Punk got as far as he did in WWE, as he was supposed to be fired before he even made it to WWE’s main roster.
CM Punk isn’t facing the exact same challenges in the UFC as he faced in WWE. In the UFC, all that matters is your performance. He doesn’t have to worry about having the right look, he doesn’t have to worry about rubbing people the wrong way. As a matter of fact, Punk has already rubbed a lot of MMA purists the wrong way just by signing with the UFC. But that’s not going to stop him from being one of the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draws, at least for one fight, and that’s not going to stop him from being the “top guy” like it did in WWE.
When CM Punk describes himself as a kid growing up in Chicago, he says that he was a fan of both professional wrestling and mixed-martial-arts. When there was a fork in the road and Punk had to decide whether to chase a career in pro wrestling or mixed-martial-arts, Punk chose pro wrestling over MMA, and he still felt that he would have regrets if he never ended up trying MMA.
“People who know me know how long I’ve talked about doing this. This isn’t so much about the UFC. It’s about me, and what I want to show about me. It’s something I’ve thought about for a very long time, and once the opportunity presented itself, I’d have been a fool not to take it.”
In hindsight, CM Punk’s big blowup with WWE management back in January was probably the best thing for him. Now, after finally being able to take time off, rest, and heal from multiple injuries, CM Punk is ready to give MMA a shot in the world’s most popular fighting organization, the UFC.
Punk says that his plan after he left WWE was to fight, and if the UFC didn’t want him, he would have gone elsewhere. It’s likely that if the UFC didn’t sign him, Bellator would have made him an offer, and the UFC probably signed Punk for that reason, as they didn’t want to give Punk’s very first MMA fight, which is expected to be a mega-draw on pay-per-view, to Bellator.
Just a couple of weeks after walking out of WWE, CM Punk attended UFC 170 back on February 22. At that event, Punk says he was walking around backstage, and crossed paths with Lorenzo Fertitta, who is the co-owner of the UFC. Punk said that Fertitta jokingly asked him if he had ever thought about doing MMA under the UFC banner, and Punk answered the question by saying “yes” in a serious manner. Punk then explains that he gave Fertitta his phone number, and eight moths later after Punk settled his legal issues with WWE, Fertitta and UFC president Dana White flew to Chicago to finalize Punk’s UFC deal.
Back on November 17, the UFC began hyping a major announcement. That major announcement was originally supposed to be the signing of CM Punk, but was pushed back to UFC 181 due to the UFC not being able to finalize a deal with Punk in time to make that announcement.
After the Punk signing was announced, the comparison between CM Punk and Brock Lesnar was made. UFC president Dana White said that this is nothing like the Brock Lesnar deal, as Lesnar wanted to fight all of the top guys immediately, and Punk just wants to get in there and fight. For Punk, fighting is more like a bucket list type of thing, much like it was for fellow former WWE superstar Dave Bautista, which is a much better comparison for Punk than Brock Lesnar.
As of right now, CM Punk still has a lot of decisions to make. Where will he train? What weight will he fight at? When will he debut? All three of those things are up in the air, and the only thing that we do know for sure is that Punk will either be fighting at 185 pounds, or 170 pounds, as he completely ruled out fighting at 205 pounds.
CM Punk was never known as one of wrestling’s “toughest men” when it comes to fighting skill. He’s not Brock Lesnar, he’s not Kurt Angle, he’s not Ken Shamrock, he’s not Bobby Lashley. The only famous CM Punk “fight story” happened about a decade ago, when he got into a fight with Teddy Hart, who is the nephew of WWE hall of famer Bret Hart, outside of a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee. And the word is that Hart, who had trained in boxing, completely destroyed Punk.
The UFC is willing to give CM Punk as much time as he needs to get ready for his UFC debut, which could be taking place in the summer of 2015. Nobody, including CM Punk himself, is sure how he’ll do in his UFC debut.
“It was actually a really easy decision to make. Time will tell how wise a decision it was. I finally feel there’s something I can put 100 percent of myself into and I’ll get 100 percent back, not 30 percent back.”
Whether Punk does well or gets destroyed during his tenure in the UFC, word is that his ultimate goal is to just gain experience, and eventually transition into a commentator role, which is something that he has the potential to be great at. But, in Punk’s own words, time will tell if the move to the UFC was a wise decision for him.
[Image via Washington Post]