CM Punk update: Could he be moving to UFC?

cmpunkThere has been a lot of speculation this week that CM Punk, who quit WWE on Monday, could be interested in making a move to UFC, speculation that was fueled by his presence at a UFC event in Chicago last weekend before his appearance in the WWE Royal Rumble.

UFC president Dana White said Punk hasn’t reached out to him about wanting to get into the octagon.

“I was with him all night in Chicago, he never said a word about it. He just showed up,” White said. We talked about a lot of things, fighting was not one of them. I like him, he’s a great guy. It’s a little late to get into the game, but who knows if he can fight? I don’t know. We’ll see what happens, but I like him a lot. He’s a nice guy.”

The who knows if he can fight question is a key one. Punk, 35, doesn’t have the college wrestling background that WWE-crossover star Brock Lesnar had as an NCAA wrestling champion at the University of Minnesota. Legendary MMA trainer Rener Gracie has worked with Punk, who has trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and muay thai, and Gracie has said that he feels Punk could make the transition.

“With the little time he’s had with me spread out over so many years, he’s made remarkable progress,” Gracie said. “There’s no telling how successful he would be if he devoted himself full time to the training.

“He can go get some fights, knock some fools out and choke some dudes. … If he dedicates himself full time, there is no limit, he has the intangibles,” Gracie said.

Punk’s age, 35, would be a hindrance to getting started in a new athletic endeavor. Another hindrance, at least in the short term, is his WWE contract, which expires in July. He could certainly begin training for a potential UFC fight before then, but he couldn’t sign anything formal until the summer, and you’d have to expect that Vince McMahon would lean toward litigation if there was even a hint of tampering in the interim.

On the positive side, at least in terms of bankability, it’s safe to assume that White and UFC would have interest in Punk even if only to try to generate one-off pay-per-view buys. A CM Punk match in UFC would be a media spectacle and would no doubt push buyrates through the stratosphere.

That all said, it doesn’t seem likely that Punk will end up in UFC. More likely is that Punk will take some time off and head back to WWE, maybe even before WrestleMania 30, with creative making his walkoff this week look like it was part of a storyline. That’s what is good for business – both for Punk and for WWE.

Column by Chris Graham

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