CM Punk Wants To Fight Again
It is with regret that I inform you that CM Punk may in fact be fighting in the UFC again. At the moment, there is nothing officially announced, but the persistent rumour that the UFC intends to give Punk another fight simply will not die, and it is back in the media cycle this week. Dana White has steadfastly refused to rule out the possibility of Punk fighting again, and the ex-WWE star has indicated he would like to give things another try. Currently, the talk is that Punk will be on the UFC 225 card on June 9th of this year, though no specific opponent has been named.
I will fully admit to being somewhat jaded and cynical, having been a fan of MMA for the better part of 2 decades, but this whole situation is ridiculous to me. The whole premise of CM Punk competing in the UFC is ridiculous; it was absurd when it was first floated as a mere hypothetical, and nothing to follow has dispelled that notion. The man was given 2 years to train and prepare for his very first MMA fight, and was defeated in under a minute by Mickey Gall — an actual professional fighter, albeit a young one. There was nothing in Punk's brief, completely one-sided UFC debut that indicated he belonged in there.
I fully understand that Punk was a mega-star in the WWE world and — even though he was years removed from his departure from professional wrestling — he brought a large fanbase with him. I get it. But we've already tried this experiment, and it ended very poorly. Even the heavily edited training montages painted a clear picture for anyone who paid attention: Punk was anything but a natural. Clearly he is a driven man, willing to work hard and listen to his trainers — I absolutely get that. Certain realities need to be accepted, however: after 2 years, Punk displayed minimal skill; he is not a naturally gifted athlete; he's suffered a lot of injuries and concussions in his WWE career; he is turning 40 this year.
How exactly do you sell a second CM Punk fight? "Will he get his ass kicked again?" Who do you match him up with? Mickey Gall is a young, developing talent and — in what was only his third professional bout — he was clearly too much for Punk. I have no belief that Punk has made significant improvements to his MMA game since the end of 2016, so either he is going to get smashed again or the UFC will have to find a very low quality, regional-level opponent in hopes of a more even match-up. None of that says "I would love to spend $65 for a fight card with this on it."
If this was a Fight Pass project, or a preliminary bout, it would be less egregious but I fully expect that any future CM Punk fight will be on the pay-per-view main card. The UFC is hurting for drawing power and Punk — even as a complete bust in his first outing — is still a name. Given his poor showing, and relatively low profile since the first fight, I don't think the UFC should expect quite the same number of viewers from booking Punk, but it may still be worth their while — at least in the short term. I have negative interest in anything to do with CM Punk and MMA. I don't think this will hurt the UFC in the long run, unless they continue to lack in-house star power and keep resorting to gimmicks in attempting to grow their audience.
I really hope this is just a rumour, or some sort of test balloon, and never actually comes to fruition. If it does, I think it will be a strong sign that the MMA market is going to continue to contract, as the largest promotion in the sport flails and further dilutes the sporting aspect of their product.
Published: March 13th, 2018.