After two years of trash talk, delays, doubts, injuries, more delays, a documentary series, and gallons of virtual and actual ink spilled in charting his journey, former WWE Champion CM Punk finally made his mixed martial arts debut on Saturday night, facing Mickey Gall on the main card of UFC 203.
Punk made his grand entrance to his old WWE theme, “Cult of Personality,” to a mostly positive reaction from the Cleveland crowd. When the fight began, Gall immediately shot for a double-leg takedown and got in the guard. He rained down some big shots before taking Punk’s back and going for a choke several times. He threw some shots and Punk escaped one choke, but tapped out to a rear naked choke at 2:14 into the first round.
Punk was gracious in defeat, raising Gall’s hand before the official decision was announced. Gall improves to 3-0 as a pro and 2-0 in the UFC.
Punk left WWE on January 27, 2014, the night after the Royal Rumble. On December 6 of that year, he announced he had signed a multi-fight deal with UFC and began training in earnest — training that was chronicled in the four-part Evolution of Punk series that aired on FOX Sports 1 during the past month.
Punk suffered a shoulder injury in 2015 and underwent surgery for a herniated disc in his back this year before his fight against Gall was finally confirmed for UFC 203 … in the same Cleveland arena where his WWE career came to an end.