The speculation can be laid to rest, as former WWE superstar CM Punk will fight Mickey Gall at UFC 203 in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 10, Punk announced on UFC Unfiltered. The debut will happen nearly two years after Punk announced his signing with the UFC.
Punk, 37, has been training for his debut since early 2015, when he joined Roufusport MMA in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Looking to take his training more seriously, Punk moved to Milwaukee to be close to the gym he trained at. Originally, he was penciled in for a late-2015 debut, but that was derailed following a shoulder injury.
When Gall defeated Mike Jackson and earned the right to face Punk, the former WWE champion went down with a herniated disc in his back in February. Now, as Punk told Matt Serra and Jim Norton on the podcast, he’s happy to proceed with the fight now that he’s healthy.
“I’m happy to have a date, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You keep training and keep training until you hit a wall, and that was the point I was at. I found out I’ve been walking around with a herniated disk for probably years,” Punk said.
— UFC (@ufc) June 23, 2016
Yesterday, Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting reported that the tentative plan was for Punk to fight the 24-year-old Gall at UFC 203. The belief was that the fight would happen at UFC 202 on August 20; the same show that will feature the rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. Now, it appears that UFC may want Punk’s fight to be the centerpiece of a card instead of a side piece on a show featuring a highly anticipated rematch.
It has been reported that a documentary is being filmed, profiling Punk’s training and all the events leading up to his first fight.
“I’ve been laying low media-wise, because I have nothing to say,” Punk said. “You can’t talk a bunch of s–t until you’ve been in there, and I haven’t been. The instant I got cleared, I got on the horn and nailed everything down, and I’ll be debuting September 10 in Cleveland.”
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) June 23, 2016
As mentioned, Punk revealed his UFC deal at UFC 181 in December 2014. It was nearly a year after Punk’s controversial departure from WWE. In the early stages, it appeared that Punk’s progression as a fighter was less than encouraging. Last month, a report from Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that despite his tireless work ethic, Punk’s skills were not up to par (via Wrestling Inc).
“Punk has participated in live sparring sessions at the gym and there have been a lot of rumors about how he looked but it’s been consistently said that he has not fared well.”
However, Punk mentioned on the podcast that his training has been going well and that he was fully cleared by doctors yesterday. Punk added that for the past month, he was “cheating” by working out harder than instructed by doctors.
Punk admitted that doubts crept into his mind about his debut and if it was ever going to happen. However, while he was battling those thoughts, he was confident that he would eventually get a chance to step into the octagon.
“I never thought that it was over, I never thought that I wasn’t going to make it to a fight, I never thought I wasn’t going to fight,” Punk said about his mindset.
[Featured Photo by Duane Prokop/Getty Images]