A year and a half after announcing he had signed a deal with the UFC, former WWE superstar CM Punk is finally about to step into the Octagon. His first ever mixed martial arts fight goes down at UFC 203 on September 10 against 24-year-old Mickey Gall, who is 2-0 as a pro and 3-0 as an amateur.
People were pretty skeptical when Punk made his announcement and started training under Duke Roufus, whose camp features other UFC stars like the Pettis brothers and Eric Koch. And that skepticism turned to worry after we were exposed to two episodes of the documentary show The Evolution of Punk, which showed off his progress. The nicest thing we could say coming out of that is that Punk isn’t bad at eating punches to the face. Unfortunately for him, that’s only one skill of about 60 skills you need to survive in the UFC.
But The Evolution of Punk was filmed awhile ago, so we’ve only been seeing outdated footage of CM’s donnybrook skills. On Monday, the UFC streamed a live 30-minute sparring session and he looks like he’s improved considerably. He’s still doing some amateur things like dropping his hands when punching, but what can you expect? He is new to mixed martial arts. Overall, watching him train is no longer cringe-inducing, and it seems possible he could last longer than 45 seconds, which is how long it took for Gall to choke out his last UFC opponent.
With just over 10 days to go til CM Punk fights, it’s time for us to acknowledge what a ballsy dude he is for stepping right into the UFC for his first fight. From what we saw on The Evolution of Punk, he’s spent the last several months getting tooled day in and day out by guys who may never even make it to the UFC. At this point, it’s very clear he’s not a prodigy that is soaking the intricacies of the sport up like a sponge. There’s been ample opportunity to pull out of this — he has several very real injuries he could have used as an excuse. Yet he’s going to go ahead with this and quite possibly get the crap beaten out of him. For that, you gotta salute him.