It’s been a little over a year since former WWE World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk signed with the UFC, and even though it was promised that he would make his octagon debut at some point in 2015, he still hasn’t come close to making his debut, and, as of this writing, it doesn’t look like he’ll be fighting any time soon.
UFC president Dana White appeared on TSN’s Off the Record with Michael Landsberg several weeks ago and said that he is in the process of looking for an opponent for CM Punk, and he promised that the former WWE star will make his debut at some point in 2016.
Whether CM Punk will actually be on a UFC fight card in 2016 remains to be seen, but the former WWE Champ will fight inside the octagon next year in digital form, as it was revealed that he will be one of over 250 playable fighters in EA Sports UFC 2, which is set to be released on March 31.
CM Punk’s road to the octagon was slowed down by a shoulder injury which sidelined him for several weeks back in the fall. If Punk can remain healthy, which is a big if given how banged up he is from being a full-time professional wrestler for over a decade, Duke Roufus, who is Punk’s trainer at Roufusport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, expects the UFC to announce Punk’s debut date and opponent within the next six to ten months.
There was some chatter about having MMA veteran Cathal Pendred take on CM Punk in his UFC debut, as the two of them expressed their discontent with one another on Twitter several months ago. However, Pendred, who has a professional MMA record of 17-4 (4-2 in the UFC), retired after his first round TKO loss to Tom Breese at UFC Fight Night 76 back in October. So that fight is off the table.
It’s unclear whether or not the UFC is looking to have Punk make his debut against a UFC veteran or if they’re looking to bring someone in from another amateur or professional mixed-martial-arts organization.
Over the last year, since Punk signed with the UFC, there have been several fighters who have expressed interest in fighting the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, as they believe that they’ll get a huge pay day for a “night off” in the octagon.
The belief as of right now is that the UFC will put CM Punk on the UFC 200 card in July, as they want that show to be the biggest show they’ve ever done. Most are expecting the card to feature Conor McGregor taking on his next opponent, which may end up being either Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo, or Rafael dos Anjos, the rematch between Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey for the UFC women’s bantamweight championship, and CM Punk’s UFC debut as the opening bout on the main card.
There is some who believe that, as more time passes, CM Punk’s debut loses its intrigue, as both UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former UFC featherweight contender Kenny Florian expressed their concern about Punk’s first UFC fight losing its luster on the year-end edition of UFC Tonight.
Florian also added that he doesn’t think CM Punk’s training is going as smoothly as the UFC and the coaching staff at Roufusport thought it would go when the ex-WWE Champ first signed on the dotted line with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
If you’re itching to see CM Punk make his octagon debut, then be sure to pick up EA Sports UFC 2 on March 31, as it’s very unlikely that he’ll step inside the octagon before then.
[Featured image via Jeff Bottari / Getty Images]