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Rener Gracie wouldn’t put it past CM Punk to try MMA

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS – It isn’t the Old West days when the UFC ran with its motto of being "the ultimate proving grounds," but there is always intrigue when it comes to athletes of other sports competing in the Octagon.

When Dana White casually mentioned to TMZ that he was a fan of pro wrestler CM Punk and wouldn’t mind talking to him, people got to speculate. After all, the WWE terminated CM Punk’s contract on his wedding day which led to him blowing up Vince McMahon on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast. Suddenly there was a connection to CM Punk potentially, possibly, maybe one day fighting in the UFC.

Whether or not that’s just a pipe dream remains be seen, but Punk’s jiu-jitsu coach Rener Gracie was on hand at the UFC 181 media day, and said if anybody could make such a transition, it’d be the popular wrestler.

"CM Punk is a very unique individual in that he obsesses with things very easily and when he commits and he obsesses with something he goes for it 100 percent," Gracie told MMA Fighting. "Like we’ve seen over the years with his success in the WWE, when he applies himself he finds a way to make it work.

"In MMA? I don’t know -- I’ve only been working jiu-jitsu with him, and he’s still very new to jiu-jitsu."

Rener has been training CM Punk -- real name Phil Brooks -- for a couple of years in California.

"But even there, very sporadically," he says. "Because when he was with the WWE it’s hard to get with him more than every couple of months. But man, he hasn’t mentioned anything to me. It’s just a matter of whether he applies himself or not. He can be very good. In jiu-jitsu, he’s known to be very fast."

Though Rener says that CM Punk hasn’t been training consistently enough to be belting, he’s seen Punk make strides in jiu-jitsu.

"He’s showing up for two weeks at a time, training exclusively with me, 100 percent, then he’s out," he said. "Then he comes back six months later. So, there’s not been enough consistency to concern ourselves with belts. But man, he’s remarkable. He’s in the top tier of students that I’ve ever worked with as far as his retention ability goes -- his athleticism and his ability to train for long periods of time, because he’s very resilient and very athletic.

"I don’t know what he wants to do with it, where he wants to take it. I just enjoy the process and having students as dedicated as him."

Dedicated enough to make it in MMA, if he so chose?

"Absolutely, without a doubt, if he wanted to apply himself to any skill, he would have to apply himself like he does to jiu-jitsu to the other arts as well to make sure he’s well-rounded," Rener said. "But this is something completely speculative that I know nothing about. For now it’s just jiu-jitsu 100 percent."