As CM Punk prepares for his debut in the UFC, former on-screen manager and close friend Paul Heyman gave his thoughts on Punk’s new occupation and a potential WWE return during his appearance on the SI Media podcast.
Initially expected to have his first fight towards the end of 2015, a recent injury likely put Punk’s debut off until 2016. Trainer Duke Roufus was quoted as saying that he’s “about at 50 percent” in regard to Punk’s progress. But Heyman is cautious with his expectations for Punk, somebody without a track record in activities outside of professional wrestling.
“Phil Brooks is not in his mid-thirties, he’s cruising rapidly into his late-thirties. He doesn’t have a documentable athletic background. Do I know that he has been in the gym with the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world for several years? Sure I do, but he’s never been in a competition. I don’t know of any sports he played in high school. He went straight from high school into the wrestling world so there’s no college background there.”
Unlike Brock Lesnar, the “Beast Incarnate” who Heyman currently advocates for on television, Punk does not have college or even high school background as a wrestler. Therefore, he has to put in a lot of work to get to any level of being a credible fighter within the UFC. Yet, Heyman believes that is exactly what drives Punk.
When Roufus was asked about a potential time frame for Punk’s debut, he said that we are “looking at a fight in the next six to 10 months.” Under that estimate, a fight in the spring of 2016 is the likely course of action. But whenever that fight is scheduled and does transpire, Heyman believes Punk’s drive to overcome obstacles will allow him to succeed.
“Phillip Brooks does not have that background. It makes it all the more improbable, which is exactly why he’s so driven to do it. Because he looks in the mirror and he sees not only a rebel and an uncompromising spokesman for the beliefs that are near and dear to him, but he sees someone that will defy conventional wisdom and pull off miracles if that’s what it takes because he has one shot in life and he wants to do something quite special with it.”
Before Punk fighting in the UFC was a reality, the “Best in the World,” was the longest-reigning WWE champion in the last 25 years and one of the federation’s top superstars. Unfortunately for Punk fans worldwide, the controversial “Second City Saint” walked out on the WWE in late January of 2014.
After he left, rumors regarding the circumstances of his departure spread like wildfire. Why did he leave? Is it a storyline? When will he return? Those questions and more were answered in his appearance on Colt Cabana’s podcast The Art of Wrestling. The fallout from that podcast was not pretty, as WWE doctor Chris Amann filed lawsuits against Punk and Cabana. At this stage, Punk seems to be all but persona non grata within WWE.
That reason, partnered with his new career, is why Heyman thinks a Punk return to WWE shouldn’t be expected for a long time, if ever.
“As of right now, ain’t no way he’s ever going back. I don’t know if I can make that same statement in the future. I know his mindset is there’s absolutely no way. As for his mindset where he is in his journey, I think every moment he takes a breath is one moment closer to his debut. I think the only thing that he sees in his mind right now, 24/7 he is envisioning the moment they lock that Octagon and the referee says ‘fight’.”
[Images via WWE.com, Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images, Jason Merritt/Getty Images For WWE]