The Undertaker Discusses CM Punk Leaving WWE and Fighting in UFC

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2021

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WWE - Undertaker gazes at the crowd after what could be his final WrestleMania match on Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP Images for WWE)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

CM Punk's two-fight foray into UFC was not successful, and his decision to make the transition to MMA was cause for confusion for many, including WWE legend The Undertaker.

During an appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience (h/t Michael Gwilliam of Dexerto.com), The Phenom gave his thoughts on Punk trying his hand at the highest level of MMA.

Taker said: "God, that was a crazy gamble for him to fight. I'm not real close with him, I mean we got along. I didn't understand it. He had an issue [with WWE] and sometimes people need a new challenge."

Punk left WWE after the 2014 Royal Rumble because of a disagreement over how he was being utilized and the fact that he was dealing with injuries.

Rather than remaining in the professional wrestling realm, Punk accepted an offer to join UFC. While Punk had no MMA experience aside from some light training, he was a big UFC fan and jumped at the opportunity.

Punk ultimately fought twice, losing by first-round submission to Mickey Gall at UFC 203 in 2016 and losing to Mike Jackson by unanimous decision at UFC 225 in 2018.

Taker expressed his belief that Punk making the leap to MMA in his late 30s and without that proper skill set is likely what doomed him: "I don't know enough, because I wasn't around enough at that time, but I don't know that he had enough background. It was late in the game for him to make that transition [to MMA]. It was easier for Brock [Lesnar]. Brock had that strong wrestling pedigree."

The Undertaker noted that Lesnar was able to transition to MMA seamlessly and become UFC Heavyweight champion, but that is largely because Brock was a championship wrestler at the University of Minnesota.

Punk didn't have that experience to fall back on, which is likely why he looked so overmatched in his two UFC fights.

While many wrestlers are UFC fans, including Taker, few of them have had success in the world of MMA. Lesnar stands out most, while Bobby Lashley and Jake Hager have both done well for themselves in Bellator.

Pro wrestlers put their bodies on the line every time they get in the ring, and what they do isn't easy, but MMA is an entirely different animal, and Punk learned that the hard way.


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