Brock Lesnar was an NCAA heavyweight Wrestling champion before leaving WWE to star in UFC. The best CM Punk can claim is that he has trained in MMA off and on for a few years in between his grueling WWE schedule, which you can take to mean, a little, here and there, not much.
So how is Punk going to do in UFC?
“We’re not going to throw the kitchen sink at him. Lesnar had a Wrestling background. (CM Punk is) going to fight a guy who is 1-0, 1-1, 2-1 — something like that,” UFC President Dana White told ESPN.com on Saturday after the announcement that Punk will debut in UFC in 2015.
Which is to say, White doesn’t expect really anything of Punk, aside from having him on a couple of UFC cards next year to help move pay-per-view buys.
Isn’t it ironic, then, that Punk will be a part-timer taking attention away from UFC regulars, considering his well-known criticism of his former employer, WWE, for pushing the likes of Lesnar, The Rock and Chris Jericho at the expense of the hard-working loyalists?
Punk is expected to debut in the summer and compete as a middleweight at 185 pounds.
“My professional wrestling days are over, it’s awesome to be here,” Punk said. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
Lesnar, who is reportedly interested in a return to UFC after his current run in WWE ends at WrestleMania 31 next year, has racked up a 5-3 record and a UFC heavyweight title in his run in the Octagon. Two other former WWE champions, Dave Bautista and Bobby Lashley, have also tried their hands at professional MMA, with Bautista winning his only fight, and Lashley posting a 12-2 record in a career that he is pursuing contiguous with his work in TNA.
For Punk, at 36, he concedes that “it was now or never” if he wanted to make the leap to UFC.
“I have a limited window most fighters don’t have. I’m either here to win or get my ass kicked,” said Punk.
It sounds like White is expecting the latter more than the former.
“He’s been coming to fights for a long time, and after his WWE contract was up, he called me and said he wanted to give it a shot. I said, ‘All right. We’ll give you a shot,’ “ White said.
Line up the tomato cans.
– Column by Chris Graham