Former WWE Superstar CM Punk is looking to make his UFC debut in December, although he won't be rushed into taking his first steps in the Octagon.
Punk quit the professional wrestling game last year and has decided to make the arduous transition to mixed martial arts. Although he has a desire to fight as soon as possible, the 36-year-old knows he must put in the work before becoming a competitor in the combat game.
"I say this all the time: I'd love to fight tomorrow," he noted during International Fight Week, reported by Michael Martinez of the official UFC website. "But I want to be as prepared as I possibly can be and I will be. I'm still shooting for December. It might be January, I'm not sure. But I'll be ready when I fight."
Punk admits he is "a fan of knowledge," so he enjoys the "super fun" training sessions of former kickboxer Duke Roufus, who trains him three times per day. The Roufusport camp has worked with UFC stars such as Pat Barry, Anthony Pettis and Matt Mitrione over the years.
However, things are quickly going to turn serious if Punk is to make a splash in the organisation. Unlike many WWE Superstars, he doesn't possess a traditional wrestling background. In fact, Martinez says Punk is a white belt in every MMA discipline.
Punk admits he is still adjusting to grappling and the intensity of non-scripted fights, per Martinez:
Wrestling is probably my hardest day just because that’s the grind. You’re constantly in somebody’s face. You’re not trying to give up any ground. It’s no secret I didn’t wrestle in high school or anything like that. Everybody I train with did, so they have a lifetime of experience. But I love that.
I’ll get beat up and tired, but I’ll be the guy that stands up and says, 'Let’s go again. I’ll get you one of these days.'
Punk believe it's a "bad idea" for him to face opponents who "are a lot bigger" than he is in the middleweight division (185 pounds). Instead, a jaunt on the welterweight ladder (170 pounds) is "doable," in his own words.
SiriusXM's RJ Clifford previously told Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe that Punk should square off against UFC commentator Joe Rogan (a multiple black belt holder):
Question marks will certainly remain over the Chicago native's suitability. Many fighters who are more experienced than him get nowhere near the organisation. Punk is a huge draw and a marketable brand—hence why Phil Brooks, his real name, isn't used in the UFC's headline—and could lead plenty of WWE viewers toward MMA.
Wrestling fans will remember Punk's character having a disregard for authority and leading a revolution against WWE's current PG era. He's charismatic, a great showman and someone who knows how to rally an audience. Punk is essentially an MMA rookie, though.
Brock Lesnar had an extensive NCAA wrestling background before becoming a professional wrestler. His transition from WWE to MMA was aided by his ruthlessness, outrageous power and years of training. If Punk is to make the same waves as the former UFC heavyweight champion, he'll need to show a killer instinct within his opening three rounds.
A high-profile or embarrassing loss could end his MMA career before it's even really begun.