Dana White Says CM Punk Wants to Fight; WWE's Jack Gallagher Issues Challenge

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 10:  Phil 'CM Punk' Brooks warms up backstage prior to facing Mickey Gall in their welterweight bout during the UFC 203 event at Quicken Loans Arena on September 10, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

CM Punk is eying a return to the Octagon, UFC President Dana White confirmed Friday.

Speaking with the Associated Press' Dan Gelston, White said Punk wants to fight again in UFC and that the company plans to follow through on that aim.

"I like that guy. He's a good dude," White said. "He wants one more. He wants to get another shot. I'm going to give it to him."

White added it remains to be seen whom Punk would fight. WWE cruiserweight star Gentleman Jack Gallagher threw his name in the hat while also throwing shade at Punk for his first-round defeat to Mickey Gall at UFC 203 in September 2016:

On merit, there's little reason to give Punk another fight in UFC. He lasted 2:14 before submitting to a rear-naked choke by Gall. According to UFC.com, Gall landed 26 total strikes and 20 significant strikes, while Punk had six and zero, respectively in those categories.

But Punk's star power makes him an attractive prospect for the company.

According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via MMAPayout.com), UFC 203 had the second-biggest buyrate (475,000) on a pay-per-view card without either Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey in 2016. UFC 200 had a little over one million PPV buys, and that event included Daniel Cormier, Brock Lesnar and Anderson Silva.

Punk brings UFC extra mainstream appeal at a time when the company is somewhat starved for fighters with broad popularity outside MMA.

Speaking with Gelston, White admitted he's unsure whether McGregor will ever fight in UFC again after he made at least $30 million from his fight with Floyd Mayweather. Rousey's MMA career appears to be over as well. Meanwhile, Jon Jones is facing a multiyear suspension after failing a drug test.

Even though Punk's second fight would likely provide fewer financial returns than his debut, putting him back in the Octagon is one way for UFC to guarantee itself a solid buyrate.