CM Punk surprised everyone in 2014 when he decided to make the jump from WWE to UFC, making the announcement at the end of UFC 181.
Here was an independent wrestling legend-turned-WWE Superstar with nary a real-life fight under his belt, and he was going to start banging it out in reality with the best in the world.
The wrestling and MMA worlds waited with baited breath to find out who CM Punk (real name Phil Brooks) would be taking on when he finally stepped into the Octagon.
— UFC (@ufc) June 24, 2016
Days turned into months, then months turned into years. Along the way there were a few false starts, but now it appears that he will be facing 2-0 Mickey Gall at UFC 203.
CM Punk made the reveal on a recent interview with the UFC Unfiltered podcast. (WhatCulture has a rundown of the highlights here.)
Still, it is difficult to get excited about a CM Punk debut at this point. Brooks was originally expected to debut sometime in 2015. After surgery for a nagging back injury from his time as a professional wrestler, Brooks was then fingered for a UFC 200 debut. Then, it switched to the undercard of UFC 202, and now here we are with 203 on September 10.
With things a bit more hopeful, fans of both UFC and Brooks have a lot to look forward to except for the fact that there is quite a bit of time between now and then, and the belief that Brooks would debut for so long has already been kicked down the road multiple times. Any number of things could happen to delay the fight, yet again, on Brooks’ end. Here are two likely scenarios.
1. Brooks’ back injury returns.
It’s common knowledge in the sporting world that once an injury flares up on you once, it becomes easier and easier for it to happen again.
MMA training is intensive, and Brooks’ rumored lagging in skill set—hat tip to WrestleZone—means that he can’t afford to take time off between now and the date of the fight.
That makes him uniquely vulnerable to aggravating the injury yet again and delaying the fight further.
2. Brooks sees too much damage to the CM Punk brand by going through with the fight.
Historically, Brooks has been a pretty fearless guy; his legendary “pipe bomb” promo being one of the many to help him stand out over the years. Unfortunately, that level of boldness can sometimes backfire and paint a self-inflicted target on a human being’s back.
Making the jump from “fake” wrestling to “real” MMA has an element of in-over-your-head to it. The MMA crowd would love to see Mickey Gall take CM Punk out in the first 10 seconds and reveal him as a fraud. Many in the pro wrestling crowd share this hope for different reasons.
Some feel jilted that Brooks—a talented in-ring performer—turned his back on them and WWE, while others are fans who wouldn’t mind having CM Punk back at WrestleMania in spite of the multi-fight contract he signed with UFC 2 years ago.
The problem there is that a 10-second takeout of Brooks by Gall would effectively devalue the CM Punk brand in the wrestling world.
Punk is at a place where he knows this, and if he truly feels his training is not far enough along, then he could find a way—either manufactured or through blunt honesty—to get out of the fight before anything humiliating happens.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) June 25, 2016
Even if he does decide to go through with the fight and loses as most MMA analysts expect him to, it is unlikely that he sticks around for another fight or two.
But, what do you think, readers?
Will CM Punk make his UFC debut at 203, or will the fight get delayed yet again/canceled altogether? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
[Image via WWE]