CM Punk On The Reality Of Fighting In The UFC: ‘There’s A Big Chance I Fall Flat On My Face’

The UFC’s newest, biggest name signing, Phil “CM Punk” Brooks has been busy since announcing that he was joining the premiere combat sports organization. On Wednesday, two interviews with Brooks were released, and while there’s some overlap, he opened up a lot of people’s eyes.

From his interview with Rolling Stone:

Have you been surprised by the range of reactions to your UFC signing?

I can’t say it’s gone as I expected. A few notable, big names in UFC have been extremely supportive. Whether they have ulterior motives is yet to be seen. I tend to tune out the negativity, and there’s been a lot of positive stuff. I think a lot of people are curious, and I think a lot of people understand my mindset.”

For example, there’s Daniel Cormier offering to bring Punk into American Kickboxing Academy to train and even looking to sweeten the pot by posting a video for Punk’s entrance music, “Cult of Personality”. Then there’s new welterweight champ, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler trying to persuade Punk down to American Top Team. What followed was a ton of ATT fighters tweeting about how much they want Punk down in Florida, like Thiago Alves, Tyron Woodley, and Cole Miller.

To that end, should everyone – yourself included – reserve judgment until you step inside the Octagon?

For sure. I’m not gonna sit here and make bold predictions about first-round head kicks and beating ranked opponents. This is about me and my journey to get there. I understand other peoples’ point of view about, “Oh, there’s great fighters out there like Ben Askren.” My only point on that is, “Don’t be mad at me, Ben. Be mad at [UFC President] Dana [White].” I’m sure Ben Askren’s a nice guy. If he’s mad at me, I understand. But if the Blackhawks came to me before Dana and Lorenzo did and were like, “We’re gonna put you in goal,” I’d be like, “That’s great. I played a little hockey when I was a kid.” You know what I mean? I’m not gonna deny myself some opportunity because somebody on Twitter thinks I shouldn’t have it.”

Isn’t Punk the guy that got mad when part-time wrestlers strolled in and took spots on the card away from more deserving people? Just checking, just checking.

Once you do step inside the Octagon in 2015, will there be any fear about getting hurt?

No. I’ve been getting beat up for most of my adult life. Pro wrestling is a lot different than MMA. Most recently, I had a conversation with King Mo, and he’s been training to be a pro wrestler, and he was like, “Pro wrestling is harder.” Now, that doesn’t make my decision to do MMA like, “Oh, this is easy,” because I know it’s not. I just know I’ve put in work in pro wrestling, and the work ethic you learn from doing that will translate for me. It will put me in a good position.

Okay, so King Mo, the guy that got brutally and hilariously knocked out by a spinning back fist in MMA and is now basically fleeing that sport to go into pro wrestling, but wrestling is much harder than fighting.

Is there actually a higher risk of injury amid the choreographed violence of wrestling than in the specialized fighting of MMA?

I definitely think pro wrestling’s more risky. The pro wrestler’s mentality, and it’s ingrained in them from the start, is you have to work hurt. And I know guys in MMA are banged up and will “work hurt,” but if you tear your knee up, you’re gonna get surgery. Pro wrestlers will not, because they’re afraid about losing their jobs. They will work through torn ligaments and everything, and I’ve done it and it’s not smart, and it’s not the healthiest work environment.

If I step in the Octagon and I get knocked out, I don’t gotta keep fighting. If that was pro wrestling, and I slipped and I fell and something happened to me and I got knocked out and I woke up three seconds later, guess what: I gotta finish this match. That’s just the pro wrestler’s mentality, and I’m glad I don’t really have to be subjected to that anymore. Imagine if an MMA fighter fought four-to-five nights a week. That’s essentially what I was doing in pro wrestling. Obviously, there’s big differences between a real fight and a fake one, but it’s a lot more wear and tear on your body, the travel is brutal. So I won’t be doing that.

While I won’t deny that wrestlers probably have way more injuries on a day-to-day basis, there’s also the fact that mixed martial artists have fought upwards of twenty-five minutes with broken hands, broken ribs, torn biceps, and riddled with staph infections. Oh, and depending on the referee, there is a chance a fighter suffers a flash knockout and recovers before the bout can be stopped and continues fighting.

How did you convince your wife AJ to be on board, given the physical risks?

After I spoke with Dana and Lorenzo, that’s when it got serious and that’s when I brought it to her attention. Trust me, whatever nerves I’m gonna have stepping into the Octagon will pale in comparison to the nerves I had when I had to bring this up to my wife. I was honestly terrified. I was like, “She’s gonna shut it down, and I’m gonna have to figure out a way to smooth it over so I can do this, because I don’t take no for an answer, she doesn’t take no for an answer, and this is something I really wanna do.” Right off the bat she recognized that. She’s been around me long enough to know that, ever since the first day I met her, this is something I talked about doing, and she’s not somebody that’s gonna step in front of her husband trying to accomplish something that he dreamed about.

It’s good that AJ is cool with things, but wouldn’t it be more fun to step into that cage knowing your wife has her head in her hands and will be cringing the entire time you fight, Punk?

Is this all ultimately part of a bigger plan to build the business of Phil Brooks?

Sure, but that’s not the sole purpose of doing it. Obviously, because it’s such a high-profile move and all eyes are on me right now, yeah, why wouldn’t you classify that as the building of a brand or a business? That’s what it is. I could easily just not be doing interviews and telling people, “No, I’m gonna hole up here and train, and you’re never gonna see me until I fight,” but that’s unrealistic. I think somewhere along the lines after I disappeared from WWE, people got this idea that I hate being famous. And if anybody is famous, they know that fame isn’t really a thing. Fame is an apparition. Fame is a side effect of success. I did not wake up one day and say, “I wanna be famous.” I did not wake up and say, “I wanna be a UFC fighter.” I woke up and said, “I want to be successful at something I want to do. I want to fight.”

Hey, buddy, if you want to be successful at something you want to do, and if that thing is fighting, maybe start off the same way every other jamoke does and get at least one amateur bout under your belt, then onto regional professional fights and then see if the UFC comes calling. Big Dave Bautista took on a random dude in a random promotion. You absolutely woke up and said “I want to be a UFC fighter” and bam, it happened.

And when it’s all said and done, there’s no part of you that pines for that WrestleMania main event one day?

No, absolutely not.

Last night, on Fox Sports 1, Punk spoke with Jay Onrait of Fox Sports Live a little more about his plans for his fighting career.

Highlights from part 1 of Punk’s Fox Sports Live interview:

– He admits that he’s a polarizing figure, and people either want to see him succeed, or hate him and want to see him fail.

– Punk doesn’t say he deserves a shot in the UFC.

– Says a fear of failing isn’t stopping him. “There’s a big chance I fall flat on my face on this,” but even though that failure would be in front of millions, he isn’t concerned. “You’re talking to a man who crapped himself on national television before.”

– Punk still hasn’t hammered out a weight class, but is looking at middleweight (185), though he’s been called out by someone in basically every division, from flyweights to heavyweights.

– Punk doesn’t know where he’s going to train, needs to set up a situation where he’s comfortable, in the sense that the gym isn’t full of people that hate him, but taken out of his comfort zone. He wants to stay close to home, near Chicago. (Looks like his two options are Finney’s HIT Squad in Granite City, which is a great name for a town of fighters, and Team Curran in Crystal Lake.)

– He has only sparred with inexperienced people a handful of times.

– Punk has trained so infrequently with Rener Gracie that he’s not even a blue belt.

Then there’s some hockey and baseball talk, but nobody reading this cares about stick and ball or puck sports, so on to part two!

– Punk doesn’t know who his first opponent will be, but isn’t ruling out the possibility that it’s being kept secret from him.

– He thinks Dana and Lorenzo could show similarities down the line to Vince McMahon, but has been treated “the way I feel I should be treated” so far. He does admit that Dana shows some of the same stubbornness that Vince has.

– Wishes he would have gotten into MMA sooner in his life, even though he doesn’t want to have regrets in his life.

– Favorite all time fighter: Dan Henderson (Okay, not bad, Punk, not bad).

– Favorite current fighter: Himself, also Daniel Cormier.

– Predicting Cormier to grind out Jon Jones and win the belt.

Finally, his message to UFC fans:

If you like fighting, and you love me, and you want to support me, that’s awesome. Watch me grow, watch me fight in the UFC. And if you hate me, it’s probably even better, because you get to watch me get punched in the liver and punched in the face, and people are going to be trying to choke me and all that other stuff. But, the bottom line is I’m going to show the world what I’m made of, because I believe in myself and this is a dream of mine, and I’m chasing it. So, win, lose, or draw, in a lot of ways, I’ve already won. I’m putting myself out there for the world. I’m a raw nerve, and everybody gets to come on this ride with me. I think that’s part of the fun of this. It’s all about the journey, not so much the destination, but when the destination comes, you better believe I’m going to try to win.