Former WWE superstar CM Punk is set to make his UFC debut at some point this year, presumably this coming July at UFC 200, against the 2-0 Mickey Gall.
Punk signed with the UFC in December 2014, and the organization immediately became the subject of criticism because the former WWE Champ had never competed in mixed martial arts previously.
CM Punk was one of the biggest professional wrestling stars of his generation, and the UFC is hoping that his debut, and his subsequent fights, will convince some of the wrestling fans to purchase a pay-per-view.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) February 16, 2016
This isn’t the first time the UFC has signed an ex-pro wrestler with little-to-no professional MMA experience, as they signed Brock Lesnar in 2007, who had only fought once previously. Lesnar went on to become the UFC heavyweight champion, and he was also the biggest star the company ever had.
While Lesnar only had one professional fight under his belt before his UFC debut, he also had an NCAA division-one amateur wrestling championship, which he won in 2000. So, he at least had a base to build upon, but CM Punk on the other hand, is a complete mystery.
Punk has been training at the Milwaukee-based Roufusport for over a year now, and he’s earned the respect of several MMA veterans during that time. But, while he’s earned respect over the last year, there are some, including UFC color-commentator Joe Rogan, who are saying that he should have to fight elsewhere before earning a spot on a UFC pay-per-view card.
Rogan had MMA pioneer and UFC Hall of Famer Bas Rutten on his podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience, this week, and the two briefly talked about CM Punk’s upcoming debut against Mickey Gall. The two didn’t exactly know what to make of the Punk situation, but they both agreed that he should’ve fought in a smaller organization before he signed with the UFC.
— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) February 18, 2016
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with [CM Punk]. I don’t understand this whole thing. It’s ridiculous for him to fight in the UFC, I think he should fight in a small organization. Take a fight in a small organization, build yourself up, which is what should have happened with Brock Lesnar.”
The UFC contacted Punk almost immediately following his abrupt WWE exit in January 2014, which the former WWE Champ detailed in a nearly one-hour sit down interview with Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting. While he wouldn’t name them, Punk also noted that there were other organizations that reached out to him following his WWE exit.
Bellator MMA, which is the UFC’s main competitor, likely reached out to Punk, as they’re in the business of doing “freak show” fights to help get eyes on their product, which is probably why the UFC was so quick to offer Punk a contract.
UFC president Dana White said that Punk would likely make his UFC debut at UFC 199 in June following Mickey Gall’s win over Mike Jackson earlier this month. But, Punk told Ariel Helwani that very same night that he wanted to fight at UFC 200 in July.
Just a few days later, it was reported that Punk was going to get back surgery, which would take him out of action for the next six weeks. So, it does look like the former WWE Champion is on pace to make his long-awaited UFC debut at the big UFC 200 show this July.
Guys. It's all good. The fight is still on. Minor surgery. I wish @CMPunk a healthy & speedy recovery. I want you at 100%, check that, #200
— Mickey Gall (@mickeygall) February 10, 2016
Mickey Gall hinted that he and Punk would meet at UFC 200 while commenting on the ex-WWE star’s back surgery on Twitter. Again, all signs are pointing to Punk vs. Gall at UFC 200.
[Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images]