As CM Punk continues to prepare for his first fight in the UFC, he can count on the support of a former adversary of his in the WWE.
Former WWE superstar Alberto Del Rio spoke to Sporting News recently to promote the new MMA Series Combate Americas on NBC. During the interview, Del Rio was asked about Punk making the transition from professional wrestling into mixed-martial arts. A former MMA competitor himself, Del Rio was quick to praise Punk for making the jump.
“It’s going to be difficult, but I know he’s been busting his ass for months and months. I know he’s going to be ready. He’s an athlete. He has the passion. He’s hungry for that and I know a lot of people want him to not do well.”
Both Del Rio and Punk have a lengthy history together while they were both in the WWE. On numerous occasions, Punk and Del Rio squared off in high profile, main event matches. Not only did they wrestle each other a lot of times, both men’s WWE careers ended in unceremonious fashion.
Punk infamously left the WWE in early 2014, later citing a plethora of issues that led to him making that decision. For Del Rio, the “Mexican Aristocrat” was fired by the WWE later on in 2014 after an incident in which he slapped a social media manager for using a racial slur.
But despite them both no longer being employed the same company — or even working in the same field — Del Rio wishes his former colleague the best as he prepares to make his debut inside the UFC octagon.
“I’m 100 percent sure he’s going to do just fine. I’m going to be there that day to support him and I just wish him success. Not luck because he doesn’t need luck. He’s going to succeed in this venture.”
Also, having been a a part of both pro wrestling and MMA, Del Rio understands the rigors and danger of both sports. And while MMA is a competitive sport — as compared to the scripted nature of pro wrestling — there is still a large amount of risk involved.
While Punk is no longer a pro wrestler, Del Rio wants fans to understand the dangers all pro wrestlers still have to endure and be prepared for.
“Yes, what we do is entertainment, but the risk is real and we are real athletes. We bust our asses every single day. We are in great shape all the time.”
[Image via WWE]