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CM Punk walked into the UFC 225 ring looking for his first ever win in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. After an embarrassing loss to Mickey Gall in his debut match at UFC 203, Punk was the favorite going into the match. While he would last all three rounds against Mike Jackson at UFC 225, he was out matched and looked as if he didn’t belong. He lost by unanimous decision, dropping his record to 0-2.
Following the bout, UFC President Dana White said, “think that’s probably a wrap for CM Punk. “I think he should do that for himself. He’s 39 years old. The guy’s got a lot of guts. He came out here and tried it twice, worked very hard and earned the respect of his team and a lot of other people. He looked tough tonight.”
It begs the question, should CM Punk consider retiring from mixed martial arts? The answer is simple: probably.
The problem with Punk is that he tried to transition from a sport that’s based on scripted story lines and in modern WWE, rehearsed moves, at a very late age. He left the WWE in 2014, then debuted in the UFC in 2016 at the age of 37. While he’s only about four years older than the average age of other fighters in the welterweight division, they’ve also had multiple years of experience, rather than just trying to break into the business.
While other wrestlers have made the transition, such as Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley, there’s some noticeable differences. When Lesnar debuted in MMA, he was only 29 and Lashley was 32. Another difference was that Lashley and Lesnar worked their ways up. Prior to joining Bellator MMA, Lashley fought in several smaller promotions like Strikeforce and Shark Fights. Lesnar fought in Hero’s for a year before signing with UFC. Unlike Punk, they didn’t make the jump right away. The last difference is fighting style. While WWE is scripted and the moves are rehearsed, there’s still certain styles that fighters maintain. Lesnar and Lashley were always known as powerhouse fighters, meaning they focused more on strength than speed. Punk was more of a balanced fighter. While it means that he does some strengths, it isn’t on the level as the other two as he’s splits focus with other ideas such as speed, acrobatics, etc.
Now that Punk is 0-2, where does he go from here if not MMA? His best bet would be a return to wrestling. While a return to WWE is more than likely out of the cards, other promotions like New Japan, Ring of Honor and Impact could be in the mix here. Despite saying he would never wrestle again, it may not be a bad idea.
While the transition from professional wrestling to mixed martial arts has been done, it’s not for everyone. Punk definitely deserves all the credit for making the attempt, but it’s not working out. He says he’s having the time of life fighting, and that’s truly what matters. However, it should be interesting to see where he goes from here.