CM Punk calls himself the best in the world in the WWE, now he can try to apply that to the UFC. At UFC 181, Punk & UFC President Dana White announced that Punk had signed a new contract to compete at the 185 middleweight division in the UFC, beginning in 2015.
When this came out, the MMA & pro wrestling world absolutely went insane. Punk is undoubtedly the most controversial name in professional wrestling due to his leaving WWE abruptly after the Royal Rumble in January. Punk cited that he was burned out & absolutely sick of the industry, along with not getting the opportunity to have some of the perks that top guys receive such as John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Triple H & others.
Punk also wanted to headline Wrestlemania at some point in his career, & even though he has been in many high profile matches at the biggest event in pro wrestling against the likes of Chris Jericho & the Undertaker, every WWE star wants to be the guy to close the show at a Mania event, which Punk never received.
Punk had one of the most telling interviews of all time on the Art of Wrestling podcast, hosted by his good friend, Colt Cabana, in which Punk truly opened up about all of his issues & frustrations in the WWE & such & just where his mind is at & his body.
Here is part 2 of the CM Punk interview on the Art of Wrestling –
Before I go too deep into CM Punk the UFC fighter, Id like to talk a bit more about the CM Punk who was one of the greatest WWE performers of all time.
Punk was huge on the independent wrestling circuit, especially in promotions such as Ring of Honor. Unfortunately, he came up during a time when WWE Chairman Vince McMahon still wanted the bigger guys who were “more marketable” & looked better. He wasn’t ready to embrace a performer of Punk’s caliber, until he showed up in 2006 during the weird version of ECW that was on SyFy for a long period of time.
Punk became a mainstay on there & eventually became a two-time winner of the Money In The Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania in 2007 & 2008, cashing in each time to win the WWE Championship. Even during those times, Punk was not always at the top of the card. He was near the top but in the wrestling industry, if you aren’t closing the show, the WWE isn’t really worried about you, even though you may be the guy who is the true “face of the company.”
Punk would have a great run in WWE in terms of having exciting matches, but rumors started going around that Punk was hard to deal with, a malcontent & a guy who was really a loner most days. When Punk got to 2011, his contract was legitimately up with WWE & he resigned right before the Money In The Bank PPV event in his hometown of Chicago, where his true push really came & after his amazing championship win against Cena in that event, Punk was the highlight of the card & the fans let the WWE know that they wanted to see much more of him.
But he still wasn’t getting all of the respect that he felt that he deserved. He got much better as a competitor & was still putting on phenomenal matches against all of the top guys in the company on a consistent basis. Punk was upset however, that he wasn’t getting the opportunity to main event Wrestlemania events over matches such as the John Cena vs Rock series that headlined Wrestlemania 28 & Wrestlemania 29 in 2012 & 2013 respectively.
Punk knew that the time was ticking & after the 2014 Royal Rumble, where he was eliminated very quietly, when many people felt that a situation was happening where he would face Triple H at Wrestlemania 30, Punk left the building before the next night’s Monday Night Raw episode was to air. That would be the last time Punk would ever be seen in the WWE outside of the WWE Network.
All through 2014, fans have cheered for Punk, especially when his girlfriend, now wife, A.J. Lee would be on the show. The fans hoped many days that Punk would magically show up & all would be forgotten, especially when we live in an era where guys like Hulk Hogan & the Ultimate Warrior was forgiven for many bad issues that had happened in the past in WWE. That would not be the case as we started to see Punk on TV shows such as Talking Dead & then announcing that he would do some writing for Marvel Comics & now this seals the deal with Punk taking the UFC deal.
Recently, on the Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast, McMahon mentioned that he would be open to doing business with Punk in the future, but Punk does look as though he may actually be one of the guys who says they are finished with professional wrestling & actually mean it.
As far as Punk goes in the UFC, it has been very well noted that Punk has martial arts training with the famed Gracie family & has worked with some of the best training partners in the world, but the UFC is a whole different animal of fighter. There is no way that Punk can be ready for an actual fight before 2015 due to a variety of circumstances, not to mention just being able to have a competitive fight. Yes, Brock Lesnar was able to make the transition, but Lesnar was an NCAA wrestling champion at Minnesota, Punk was not. Punk has not been involved in any other actual fight techniques professionally or in amateur ranks outside of wrestling ever, which will make this situation all the more unique.
Competitors such as Matt Brown & Michael Bisping have already said they would like a shot at Punk, & many of the fighters probably believe that Punk only got the contract because of his name & what he can do for the UFC as a brand, as the company is not as hot as it used to be just a couple of years ago. Ronda Rousey is starting to go more into Hollywood. Anderson Silva is getting older, & after this coming weekend, will either Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier be able to be the faces of the company? Having Punk (and possibly Lesnar in 2015) back in the UFC fold gets the company back to the front of people’s minds & will help to replenish some of the possible star power that could leave the company in the next few months.
My prediction is that we could see Punk in the octagon in the UFC possibly around May or early fall, around the times when another PPV attraction – Floyd Mayweather – may be fighting his biggest fights of his career against Manny Pacquiao. If the UFC doesn’t have anything that is going to even cut a small dent into the Mayweather/Pacquiao buyrate, it could be a rough 2015 for the company, so it makes sense to bring in big, credible names like Punk & Lesnar into the fold, simply for just the buyrates & make people think twice about where they are going to spend their cash this summer & fall of 2015.