Did Brock Lesnar’s UFC 200 Win Kick Dirt On CM Punk’s UFC Aspirations?

The biggest loser following the Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt fight might be CM Punk. Both he and Lesnar have ties to the WWE and world of “fake wrestling.” No matter how many ways CM Punk goes about burning bridges to build good will in the UFC, he remains a man at a huge disadvantage ahead of his fight debut.

When Brock made his UFC 200 appearance after a five-year absence from MMA fighting, he too was counted out, a betting underdog. However, he quickly reminded everyone that he was a former reigning UFC heavyweight and an incredibly dominant wrestling force of nature. Mark Hunt was expected to finish Lesnar early. It was clear heading into the pay-per-view matchup that no one expected Brock Lesnar to handle Mark Hunt as easily as he did. It’s important to remember that Hunt is a Top 10 heavyweight fighter.

After Brock Lesnar’s stunning victory, FOX Sports suggests there’s even a chance we could be seeing a third return to the current WWE star.

“The 38-year-old former heavyweight champion returned to the UFC on Saturday night and beat No. 8-ranked contender Mark Hunt by unanimous decision to get his first win inside the Octagon since 2010.

Lesnar had only about five weeks to prepare for Hunt, but he looked calm, cool and collected as he took the former K-1 champion to the mat repeatedly and pounded his way to a victory after retiring from the UFC five years ago.

Lesnar was given permission by his employers at WWE to return for UFC 200, but given the reception he received along with the performance he put on, it seems pretty possible he’ll want to compete again.”

It was previously asked just who UFC fans seem to hate more – CM Punk or Brock Lesnar? We might have just gotten our answer. There were no boos after Lesnar’s win. His humble and thoughtful manner after the fight seemed to extend the goodwill of UFC fans even further. So much so, spectators could be highly supportive of a Lesnar comeback.

Such a turnaround is extremely impressive and a bit telling. At 38, Brock Lesnar is a year older than the still-untested CM Punk. Age is more of a factor for Punk, as he’s attempting to learn valuable MMA skills later in life than many would dare. His body is considerably more fragile than Lesnar’s thanks to wrestling injuries and back surgery.

Unlike Brock Lesnar, CM Punk will not be debuting in his prime. He will instead be hoping to avoid embarrassing himself when he takes on the 2-0 Mickey Gall. If Punk feels pressure, he certainly has yet to let on. He’s even refused to rule out a title challenge after a few fights.

Perhaps one can thank Brock for that optimism. During Lesnar’s first run in the UFC, he’d only had a few fights before being granted title challenge. Despite the indignation expressed by fight fans and fighters, Brock ended up with the title. Seeing Lesnar return to the UFC and dominate might awaken even more inspiration within CM Punk.

However, it seems unlikely that reality will follow Punk’s optimistic view of the future.

As of now, Punk remains a strong betting underdog, with those odds unlikely to reverse by the time UFC 203 arrives. As injuries are known to flare up or happen right before these main events, it’s entirely possible we won’t see CM Punk debut at all.

There’s also the possibility that a return by Brock Lesnar would make the presence of CM Punk in the UFC a non-issue. His hype is non-existent, and only sentimental gamblers are placing money on the possibility he’ll “rock” the more experienced Mickey Gall. As Wrestling Inc. reports, Gall seems to understand that he’ll look bad (in his own words, “like an a**hole”) if he lets Punk win. It’s about more than victory, Gall believes his reputation and that of the UFC brand is on the line.

That kind of sentiment was subtly expressed during Brock Lesnar’s second go-around. However, Brock Lesnar had the skill and power to overcome such beliefs and earn the respect of the MMA fans and fighters.

CM Punk will have no such advantage. Thanks to Brock Lesnar’s win, a bar that CM Punk had no chance of getting over was just raised even higher. Not only is Punk now in danger of a terrible loss, but the option of a much-hyped Brock Lesnar return would also mean that he would probably be cast aside as soon as possible.

For all CM Punk’s grand post-WWE schemes, it’s looking more and more like he’ll be limping towards retirement sooner than he anticipated.

[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images, UFC on FOX]