There’s been a lot of speculation as to who CM Punk’s UFC debut will be against, and F4WOnline’s Mike Coughlin has made a case for CM Punk’s debut opponent to be UFC legend, and first ever UFC champion Royce Gracie.
Think about this: If CM Punk makes his UFC debut against a no-name fighter who’s 0-0, 1-0 or 0-1, UFC fans have less respect for Punk than they already do, even if Punk wins. Now, if CM Punk takes on someone who has a name, like Michael Bisping, who has said he will fight Punk, then Punk will get absolutely destroyed. So there’s almost no winning in this situation, that is, unless the UFC decides to bring back an aging legend who can fight at Punk’s weight, which will be either 185 or 170, and who still has the skills to put Punk away early.
There’s no question that UFC fans love Royce Gracie. In Royce’s last fight with the UFC at UFC 60 in 2006, he took on fellow beloved UFC legend Matt Hughes, and all of the fans in the building that night were clearly on Royce’s side, and were extremely disappointed when Hughes absolutely destroyed him in the very first round.
In recent years, Royce Gracie has wanted to return to the UFC, mainly to get a rematch with Matt Hughes. However, if Royce is offered the Punk fight, he could jump at the opportunity.
CM Punk is admittedly a hardcore UFC fan, and Punk would likely love to get inside the octagon with an all-time legend such as Royce Gracie. Also, just because Royce is 47, doesn’t mean he’s washed up, and not dangerous. Could Royce compete at the highest level in the UFC’s welterweight division? Well, no. But, against the right opponent, could Royce look phenomenal? Absolutely.
If CM Punk is going to get any kind of respect from the UFC fans, he needs to fight — and beat — someone that has a big name. Also, a Royce Gracie return to the octagon, combined with CM Punk’s UFC debut, would likely sell a lot of pay-per-views.
There are a few problems with making this fight happen though, and one of them is that Royce is now a brand ambassador for UFC competitor Bellator. Another issue is that if CM Punk wins, UFC fans will likely roll their eyes and say that Punk beat up a washed-up has-been, and still have no respect for him.
At the end of the day, the UFC is a business. Most UFC fans had no respect for Brock Lesnar, and Lesnar was the biggest pay-per-view draw they ever had. So it’s doubtful that the UFC is worried about their fans admiring CM Punk, and it’s also unlikely that they’ll book Royce Gracie vs. CM Punk. However, it would be an interesting fight to see.
[Images via WWE and Sci Fighting]