CM Punk took on Mickey Gall at UFC 203 and learned a hard lesson about the difference between the theatrics of professional wrestling and the reality of fighting.
After the fight, he was the recipient of praise from many online and in the UFC world for having the brass to enter the octagon and take on a professional.
He also received ample abuse from online trolls. Now fans from both camps — as well as crossovers — are wondering what comes next.
Unfortunately for CM Punk, he lost more than a match Saturday night, Sept. 10. Here’s why.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) September 13, 2016
Firstly, wrestlers must have an air of authenticity.
Wrestlers do not have to be the toughest guys in the room to be successful. They no longer have to win every barroom brawl they get into in order to maintain their image.
But they do have to be authentic.
Authenticity means it takes a certain quality to make fans suspend their disbelief and accept a talent as a world champion level competitor.
CM Punk had that before stepping into the cage on Saturday, thanks to “pipe bomb” promos and unabashed confidence in and out of the ring.
That changed with the Gall fight.
If you’re a WWE or even a TNA, how do you sell CM Punk as a main event player in his post-UFC career? Because, make no mistake, CM Punk is a long way from returning to the octagon on as grand a stage as he enjoyed at 203.
Dana White has even said as much, telling John Pollock shortly after the event that CM Punk “probably shouldn’t have his next fight in the UFC.”
“Just like I said with Brock (Lesnar),” White continued, “having your first fight in the UFC — it’s a tough place to learn.”
With Punk, it looked like he’d learned very little in spite of having one of the most respected gyms in MMA training him.
Now take a guy like Samoa Joe. Joe has trained in MMA for years and works a stiff style, giving and receiving legitimate punishment in the context of a choreographed wrestling match.
There is no indication Samoa Joe would win in a fight with Stipe Miocic or Alistair Overeem, but he looks and carries himself in a way where it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he could at least be competitive.
— RSN – WWE News (@myringsidenews) September 9, 2016
Secondly, CM Punk’s inability to compete makes him a hard sell in any combat setting — simulated or otherwise.
Not only was Punk dominated, he was dominated by a young fighter. It would have been one thing had a guy like Conor McGregor done that to the Straight-Edge Superstar. But Punk’s brutalizer wasn’t even a guy at the highest level; he was a beginner.
In 2:14, Gall landed countless blows and gave Punk cauliflower ear — something that normally takes wrestlers years to develop — before choking him out.
Punk looked like a guy in over his head. He gave every armchair MMA fighter in the world the ammunition to say, “I could have gone in there and done better than that.”
When you’ve reached those depths, how do you convince a wrestling company — or any company for that matter — to take a chance on you?
These are the reasons CM Punk lost more than just a fight on Saturday night. He lost his marketability as a performer in both combat sports and sports entertainment.
But what do you think, readers?
Will he compete again as a MMA fighter, and if not, do you foresee a place like WWE using him as anything more than a mid-card performer? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via WWE]