CM Punk’s journey to debuting in UFC has dragged on and on. It’s been well over two years now since he appeared in WWE, and in less than two months it’ll have been two years since he announced he was joining UFC. There’s been delay after delay after postponement leading up to this evening’s fight against Mickey Gall, and Punk hasn’t been without things to say.
Punk first broke his silence in November of 2014. It was on a podcast with fellow Chicagoan Colt Cabana that Punk went on a kill-all tirade for nearly two hours. He extensively questioned the integrity WWE, accusing them of mishandling head and body injuries, and sticking him in the ring with unsafe wrestlers. He also charged Vince McMahon with repeated, premeditated duplicity. (Well, that is Mr. McMahon’s gimmick.)
In the ensuing stretch, there have been times where CM Punk came off as a self-absorbed diva. For example, he got agitated when a writer had the temerity to ask about what components of MMA that Punk, who by this point had been signed for over a year and was still months away from having a debut date or opponent announced, needed to work on. After a follow-up question about MMA being real and violent, Punk resolved never to talk to the writer again.
This week, he had a remarkable claim that even though he was purportedly struggling with cutting weight (down to 170 from a reported WWE weight of 210), he was not seeking counsel for help and had not done a practice round. This sounded dangerous! Punk nevertheless passed the weight test, and then there were the usual UFC weigh-in histrionics of Punk refusing to shake his opponent’s hand.
All that being said, it’s genuinely impressive that CM Punk has finally made it to this point. To pick up an entirely new discipline like this in your mid-thirties is an ambitious undertaking, and whether he’d be there or not without his name recognizance is inconsequential. He’s putting himself out there in a cage where he might get completely emasculated tonight. The stakes are very high for him, at least insofar as avoiding total embarrassment. If he gets knocked on his ass in 10 seconds, who could ever take him seriously as a combat competitor again? And then what does he do?
The fact of the matter is that even when he can be dour and offputting, Punk is well-spoken, charismatic, and understands the art of drawing attention to himself. So, it’s presumable he’ll remain in the public eye in some capacity.
That being said, every scenario tonight is interesting. If he loses in a squash match, what will he say and what will his next move be? Or, what if he can stay in the match or somehow eke out a victory? He’s +325 right now at Bovada. Even granting that it’s possible dumb public money is built into that price, weirder things have happened.
My curiosity about what will go down tonight is palpable. Anyone else excited?