CM Punk is not quite ready to make his professional debut. He, along with the rest of the sports combat world, recently discovered Punk’s first opponent inside the octagon would be Mickey Gall. And while that still may be the case, it won’t be happening at either UFC 199 in June or UFC 200 in July, according to MMA Fighting. Punk will instead be forced to undergo back surgery in Chicago to repair a herniated disc. The injury hearkens back to his wrestling days, and the lingering effects will force his highly-anticipated UFC debut to be pushed back yet again.
“My back has always bugged me. Figured it was just wrestling s**t. Turns out it was. It got bad enough to the point where I couldn’t do anything the week before I went to train with the New Jersey Devils last month. One day I could manage, the next day I couldn’t. I’ve been in agony for almost a month. Chiropractor, acupuncture, massage, cryotherapy… nothing worked.”
This isn’t the first setback for CM Punk (aka Phil Brooks). He originally signed with the UFC in December 2014, but his debut was delayed a first time due to a shoulder injury. Depending on the outcome of his first fight, his plan may have been to fight multiple times this year if healthy. That plan will no longer be the case, but the report suggests that Punk’s intentions are still to fight once in 2016. UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was recently forced out of UFC 196 due to a back injury as well, according to MMA Fighting. The injuries and procedures are said to be similar. On the bright side for CM Punk, Velasquez called his surgery a “complete success.”
CM Punk actually found out that he would require surgery right before the Mickey Gall-Mike Jackson fight this past Saturday, but he kept the news private until now. Gall “earned the right” to face Punk by virtue of his 45-second submission victory over Jackson thanks to a rear-naked choke. It was Gall’s second career victory in as many fights, and he wasn’t shy about looking ahead to the impending Punk fight.
“Last time I was on the mic, I was taking about one guy. And I’m still thinking about one guy. I want to be fed. I’m hungry! Feed me CM Punk please!”
Punk, as it turns out, was in attendance for the fight and entered the ring to congratulate Gall after his interview. It is unclear whether Punk informed Gall of his upcoming surgery, but UFC fans did get a glimpse of what it would look like with the two of them in the ring at the same time. That image of Gall in his gear and Punk in a suit will have to hold over MMA fans until Punk’s recovery is complete. If the surgery is a success like that of Velasquez, the estimated time of recovery is four to six weeks. The surgery is set to take place on Wednesday, which means that if all went well, he could resume training sometime in middle to late March. And even though UFC 199 and 200 are in June and July, realistic expectations would force an actual fight to be pushed back until the fall.
CM Punk was a fan favorite during his run in WWE, but rarely was he a favorite of upper management. He often competed with a chip on his shoulder, motivated by that underdog mentality. Opening line betting odds again listed Punk as the underdog in a potential Gall-Punk showdown. Punk was listed at (+230) with Gall as a 3-1 favorite. It remains to be seen what kind of effect the surgery and/or delay has on those odds, or whether Gall will even wait for Punk or pursue another opponent altogether.
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