LAS VEGAS - When the UFC signed CM Punk to a contract with no prior mixed martial arts experience, OneFC welterweight champion Ben Askren was among the first to denounce the move.
"@UFC sign a fake wrestler, but not an Olympian who is the best WW in the world. Amateur move," Askren tweeted, just moments after the announcement of the signing of the man also known as Phil Brooks to a contract on Dec. 6.
This week, it became known that Punk will train for his MMA debut at Milwaukee's Roufusport, a gym Askren calls home.
Punk, though told fans at his Q&A session Friday at the MGM Grand Marquee Ballroom that he understands Askren's position, and that he's confident he and and Askren can talk it out.
"That's one of the things me and Duke [Roufus] talked about," Punk said. "Ben I think gets the aspect of the fight game, he wears the black hat and he does it well."
Punk has made no secret of the fact that he understands he's coming into the UFC's world as a newbie in an organization full of athletes who have dedicated their lives to making it in the sport, so he doesn't take Askren's words as a personal affront.
"I don't think he has a personal problem with me," Punk said. "I completely understand his point of view. I'm not an Olympic wrestler, he is. Why wouldn't he kind of question that? I'll talk to Ben on Monday."