clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

CM Punk has no answers yet for most of the obvious questions

CM Punk, appearing on Fox Sports Live on Wednesday night, spoke more about his decision to sign with UFC, but offered no answers to questions of where he'll train, when he'll fight, or who he'll fight.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
It's been four days since CM Punk announced he had signed with the UFC, and in that time he's been interviewed by Rolling Stone, been the main subject of conversation of both MMA and pro wrestling fans, and his name has sparked more interest than anything he did in 15 years of pro wrestling.

Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, was on Fox Sports Live on FS 1 on Wednesday, but if you're wondering who he's fighting, when, where he's training, or even what weight class he's fighting at, he still doesn't know.

"I'm not so much worried about my weight," he said. "We're probably looking at 185. I've been called out by flyweights, bantamweights, featherweights, welterweights, all the way up to heavyweights, so everyone needs to either bulk up or slim down to fight me at 185.

"As far as where, I think surrounding myself with the right people is a very key ingredient. I need to find a place where I'm comfortable to an extent, but also taken out of my comfort zone, if that makes any sense to you. I don't want to step into a facility where there's people who have negative feelings toward me and begrudge that I've gotten this opportunity. And like I said, I completely understand their point of view. But I don't need to be training with someone who is actively trying to hurt me."

At one point he said he wanted to stick close to Chicago, where he currently lives, for his training, but did indicate he was open minded to moving he and his wife to a condo in a new part of the country.

"I don't know where it's going to be."

A number of camps including American Top Team in South Florida and AKA in San Jose, Calif., have publicly invited him to train with them. Daniel Cormier of AKA noted to Punk that their camp turned Herschel Walker into a fighter so they have experience in getting novices ready for competition on national television.

"Right now I'm working out twice a day doing technique things," he said. "Right now, I'm not looking to spar with killers"

Punk has been challenged by fighters across UFC, and embraced by others.

"I'm friendly with a lot of fighters, so if someone like Daniel Cormier tweets something positive about me, it doesn't necessarily shock me, but it makes me feel awesome," he said. "But Robbie Lawler, I've never met Robbie Lawler, he said that people doubted me and they're going to doubt you, that means a lot to me. I'm a polarizing figure. People either love me or want to see me succeed, or they hate me or want to be part of my demise or watch it. I'd like to ride that wave."

It's no secret that Punk is expected to be a curiosity draw from a number of different camps. There are the wrestling fans who supported him during his career. There are those who hate that he turned his back on wrestling and left them, and now want to see him beat up. And there are those who have a desire to see a "fake pro wrestler" get beaten up by a real fighter, whether they be those who don't like pro wrestling, or UFC fans who have some sort of an aversion to pro wrestling.

He once again noted that he understands all the criticism from people who feel he has no business fighting in the UFC. For one, he was there when people said the same thing about Lesnar, and one of the reasons Lesnar ended up being as big a drawing card as he was is that MMA fans wanted to see the pro wrestler get beaten up by MMA stars. It made for an exciting ride because Lesnar actually had quite a bit of success. But Lesnar was a great legitimate wrestler and as physically powerful as anyone who has ever fought in the UFC. Punk, on the other hand, has no apparent gifts that would make anyone think he could overcome his age (36) and lack of cage experience, save perhaps a good tolerance for pain, which anyone who has done pro wrestling on the schedule he has would need, just to survive.

"Deserve is the key word," he said about the biggest criticism of the move by the UFC. "I'm not going to say I do deserve it. Time will tell if I deserve it. Respect has to be earned, not given. I understand the perspective of a lot of the fighters. Some are trying to jump on the bandwagon, and pick fights. That's the fight game. I'll take all the positive stuff and leave all the negative stuff behind."

As a fan of UFC from the start, someone who has flown around the country to attend live events during periods he was injured and not on the road working, he also feels he is positives to offer the company.

"I think I have a lot to offer MMA," he said. "I'm going to be an awesome student and I want to learn as much as I possibly can from a multitude of different people."

On the surface, this move sounds crazy, giving up a seven figure a year paycheck in a business he could do for several more years to compete in something where, as a best-case scenario, he has a short-term shelf life. But the learning aspect may speak of his ultimate goal.

Even his detractors in pro wrestling, which are many, because he neither had a reputation as the biggest or toughest, just a hard worker who was an excellent talker, concede his verbal ability. That ability could make him an excellent commentator or analyst, and having experience training at a major camp and fighting on the big stage would only help in his overall understanding of a product that he already knows very well.

Still, the more he talked, the more it was clear just how little actual fight experience he has. He's technically a white belt in Jiu Jitsu, although those who have trained with him say he's above that level. But Jiu Jitsu is his strong suit. He's done very little actual sparring and admits striking is where he's the most behind.

"I've never even gotten my blue belt," he said. "I've trained so infrequently with Rener (Gracie), it's (belt promotion) just nothing that's come about. I know that draws a giant target on my face. I tell people I'm a white belt for life. I'll always be learning."

He claimed to have no idea who he's fighting. Chael Sonnen, who is friends with Punk, on his podcast, claimed he knew and said it was someone that would surprise people and someone who would be heavily favored to beat Punk. Cathal Pendred, a UFC welterweight, teased on twitter on Wednesday that he was going to be the opponent. Those close to Sonnen say the person Sonnen was referring to was Michael Bisping, a match-up that seems beyond impossible to take place.

"This Punk is going to be 'one & done' in the UFC. It looks like I will be that one." wrote Pendred with the hashtag, #JustWonThe Lottery.

But it's hard pressed to imagine the UFC promoting, or a commission sanctioning, a fighter with a 15-2-1 record like Pendred facing someone with no competitive experience in any combat sport.

"No, I don't know," Punk said when asked who he would debut against. "I think it's too early to tell. If they do know, they haven't told me, but I always like a good surprise, so I guess we'll just wait and see."

Punk joins a relatively small club, that includes Lesnar and Ken Shamrock, who have worked for both WWE head honcho Vince McMahon and Dana White. And he wouldn't get too specific when asked to compare the two.

"Maybe similar in a lot of respects," he said, "but so far, I've been treated the way I should be treated here in the UFC, and I know it's still early and I know I'm probably being afforded things other people wouldn't because of my name value, but I have zero complaints and I don't foresee any complaining. Vince has his vision, and he's been doing it for so long. He's stubborn. I think Dana can be stubborn. They're similar, but different, how's that for a vague answer.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting