Don’t look now – CM Punk’s UFC career might not be over just yet. According to a recent statement from UFC President Dana White, everything remains open with regards to the chances of the 37-year-old Punk making a return to the Octagon for a second fight.
CM Punk’s humiliation at the hands of Mickey Gall at UFC 203 was one of the most ignominious beatings a UFC newcomer had ever received, and some may say it almost hearkened back to the early days of the company, when fighters representing unusual disciplines would lose in less than a minute to more heralded fighters. But this time, this was a case of an MMA rookie losing a match to a then-unheralded competitor – 24-year-old Mickey Gall, who had only fought twice prior to UFC 203. And it didn’t take long for Gall to dominate Punk, as the former WWE Superstar tapped out of a rear-naked choke at the 2:14 mark of the first round.
Soon after that fight, White was quoted as saying that Punk (real name Phil Brooks) may be better off fighting in a less prominent mixed martial arts promotion, which would allow him to gather more experience and make him more prepared for subsequent UFC bouts. But when he appeared on this week’s UFC Unfiltered podcast, White appeared to have changed his tune a bit and seemed to be more open to a potential second CM Punk appearance in UFC.
“So what I told him to do (was to) go home, spend some time with your wife, be normal for a little while and we’ll get on the phone and talk,” said White. “Obviously we haven’t talked yet but we will, we’ll see what’s next.”
Punk’s signing with UFC in December of 2014 had created significant media buzz when the news broke. This was due to several factors, including his age at that time (36) and the fact that he had come from a background of scripted “sports entertainment,” having wrestled since the late ’90s and achieved great success in WWE before walking out in January of that year. The signing also drew lots of attention as it had come one month after Punk appeared on then-best friend Colt Cabana’s The Art of Wrestling podcast, where he discussed a long list of grievances against WWE while also confirming the company had fired him on his wedding day that June.
Despite the skepticism surrounding his debut, Punk began training for his new mixed martial arts career in January of 2015. However, multiple injuries during his training with coach Duke Roufus repeatedly delayed his UFC debut. After the setbacks, Punk was confirmed to face Gall in a welterweight bout at UFC 203 on September 10, 2016, a fight that ended in a shade over two minutes, and one where Punk appeared to be doomed from the moment the bell rung. And when it was all over, Mickey Gall became a more familiar name to MMA fans, while Punk earned similar amounts of respect and derision from both mixed martial arts and pro wrestling communities.
Regardless of what happened at UFC 203, Dana White has gone on record to say that he respects Punk for his decision to transition from pro wrestling to MMA, and he made that point clear in quotes published by FOX Sports from his appearance at UFC Unfiltered.
“When you have what CM Punk has, the notoriety and the fame and all that stuff, to put everything on the line at that point in your life at that age and to walk in there and showcase yourself in front of the world, very few people can do it,” said White. “Everybody dreams of it, everybody wants it, (but) very few people can really do it.”
[Featured Image by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images]