CM Punk announced his signing with Ultimate Fighting Championship at UFC 181 on December 6, 2014. Since then, there has been wide speculation as to when he would debut and against whom he would fight.
While UFC President Dana White initially envisioned CM Punk (real name Phil Brooks) to debut at some point in 2015, injuries kept the Straight-Edge Superstar of WWE and the indie wrestling scene from meeting the date.
After requiring shoulder surgery, his probable debut was pushed to UFC 199, and a competitor was even announced, 2-0 Mickey Gall.
But a further medical obstacle would keep the fight off the card as Brooks had to undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc suffered during his time as a professional wrestler. That occurred in February of this year.
His status through the end of 2016 is tentative, and wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer is reporting the fight may not happen at all.
With CM Punk, there was a window of opportunity to cash in on his wrestling persona and drive heavy pay-per-view buys, but the UFC recognized they would have to strike in a timely fashion.
So @LVFightShop From all the tweets, Mayweather another that will debut in UFC before CM Punk
— Dennis (@Puro_Daddy) May 6, 2016
Signing Brooks to a multi-fight deal right off the bat (at the age of 36) didn’t seem so crazy when one considered the MMA training he had undergone prior to the announcement.
CM Punk boasted a background in Kempo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and trained under the widely renowned Rener Gracie. White realized there would be a learning curve, but not one that would keep his new signee off the shelf two years without fighting a single bout.
As Wrestling Inc. pointed out in a recent article, the general feeling was that Brooks would be better equipped than he has turned out to be. The site mentions live training sessions where he looked sluggish and unprepared even after extensive prep time.
This was a feeling also shared by UFC star Matt Brown, who was quoted in this Forbes piece as feeling that it is time for CM Punk to let the dream die.
“I didn’t criticize him for having his surgery if it was something necessary to do,” Brown said. “I criticized him for the fact that he’s not a fighter.”
“He doesn’t deserve to fight in the UFC with no fights. I don’t believe he deserves to fight in the UFC based off the name he made in pro-wrestling and I think he’ll figure it out when he fights in the UFC, he’ll figure it out the hard way. Or he can listen to me and that’ll be the easy way to learn.”
At this point, the consensus within UFC ranks is that Gall will make short work of CM Punk if the fight ever happens, but many now feel that the debut won’t just be delayed but canceled altogether.
If that happens, it is unclear what it will mean as far as the UFC’s contract and investment in Brooks are concerned, and the assumed fallback that he would have with WWE is no longer a slam dunk.
That’s because CM Punk has a reputation for being difficult to work with, criticizing the company for having him work a pay-per-view while concussed and publicly airing grievances with the McMahons on a now famous episode of The Colt Cabana Podcast.
While Vince McMahon has buried some surprising hatchets throughout his history, this could prove too much. But even if it isn’t, Brooks’ age and susceptibility to injury would make his usefulness to the WWE questionable.
The company already had to retire Daniel Bryan for similar injuries to what Brooks has experienced, and committing to an ongoing contract probably wouldn’t be “good for business” even if CM Punk is willing to return.
But what do you think, readers?
Will there ever be a CM Punk UFC pay-per-view, or will the Straight-Edge Superstar return to WWE eventually? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via WWE]