It’s been over a year and a half since wrestling legend CM Punk last stepped into the Octagon to fulfill his dream of fighting in the UFC. Unfortunately for him, it did not go well: His opponent, Mickey Gall, handled him from the opening bell until the two minute mark when he choked Punk out. For a while it sounded like UFC president Dana White wouldn’t even give him another shot in the big leagues, but money has a way of making exceptions and Punk was given a second shot at UFC 225 in his hometown of Chicago to show off what he’s learned since the Gall fight.
Across the cage from him was fellow 0-1 UFC fighter Mike Jackson, an easier opponent than Gall but still a man with a lot more experience and training than Punk. Would Punk be able to rise to the occasion and prove himself worthy of his spot on the main PPV card?
In the end it was a gutsy performance from Punk that started strong but ended with Jackson’s striking and experience being just too much. Jackson unleashed on the feet and on the ground with slow and steady strikes, bloodying Punk up and wobbling him seriously in the second round. Round three was all Jackson, who split the round beating Punk across the cage and then into the canvas. The fight ended with Jackson getting the nod 30-26 with round three a 10-8.
The first round saw Punk use some decent leg kicks and lunging punches to push Jackson back. Jackson used his length well to fire long punches that landed well, but he didn’t get a lot in. Punk stayed aggressive and landed a takedown near the end of the first, and you can argue he deserved his first 10-9 in the UFC.
Things didn’t go so well in the second for Punk, though. One of Jackson’s long punches landed flush on his jaw early on, staggering Punk. Punk responded by jumping onto Jackson, who fell forward into guard. From there Jackson unloaded with slow and deliberate ground and pound that bloodied Punk up. Punk threw his legs up a few time and almost got the beginning of a triangle, but it was a clear round for Jackson.
The third round turned into a virtual shooting gallery for Jackson as an exhausted Punk lunged in only to eat two or three shots on the way in. Jackson continued to take his time, picking his shots and hurting Punk badly with shots, never following up for the finish. At one point, commentator Joe Rogan went so far as to suggest Jackson was carrying Punk rather than seriously trying to finish the fight. The bout ended with Punk pushing through for a takedown, but round three was a total blowout in Jackson’s favor, to the degree that all three judges had 10-8 scores.
We’ve got to hand it to Punk: it was a gutsy move to step back into the Octagon, and he held himself well through a hard three round fight. While Jackson outworked him with better striking and control, Punk fought hard through the whole match til the bitter end. Now let’s put this experiment behind us and get back to the UFC being for the best fighters in the world.