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CM Punk says he 'dodged a bullet' with shoulder injury

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

CM Punk was sparring in August at Roufusport. Things ended up on the ground and, in a scramble, he posted off his elbow with much of his body weight. His shoulder could not support the force and it popped.

At that moment, Punk thought for sure it was an injury that would need surgery.

"It was one of those pops where everybody in the room just turns and looks," Punk told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.

The former WWE star finished the round anyway and the session, too. Afterward, he mopped the floors as he normally would with the thought that the injury was going to set him back a great deal.

As in turns out, Punk said he "dodged a bullet." An MRI showed there was no tear of his labrum or rotator cuff. The Chicago native is hoping to do some bag work as early as this week and ease himself back into full-time training soon.

"I'd be fine if I could train, if I could do something," Punk said. "But just kind of sitting around waiting for the MRI that week was pretty miserable. Riding the bike hurt. Jumping rope hurt. But it's a lot better now."

The worst thing, Punk said, was that he felt like he was starting to figure things out more and more when the "freak injury" happened.

"It's kind of the most frustrating thing about it," he said. ... "I felt like I was turning the corner a little bit in some aspects."

With the pain mostly gone, Punk said he's trying to bike 20 miles per day and do a lot of jumping rope, while blocking out the stream of negative notifications on Twitter. Punk, who has taken a ton of heat for coming from pro wrestling to the UFC without ever having any kind of significant martial arts background, said he would have preferred if coach Duke Roufus never released the information of his injury to ESPN.com.

"Whatever happens in the gym stays in the gym," Punk said, adding that he had spoken to Roufus about his feelings on the matter.

Punk, 36, said over the summer that he was hoping to fight by the end of 2015. That certainly won't happen now and, according to Roufus, that wasn't really the plan anyway. Punk has said from the beginning that he would defer to his coaches when it came to his UFC debut. Roufus told ESPN that it could be another six to 10 months before he debuts.

"I'm the one that ran my mouth and was like, 'Oh I hope I fight by the end of the year,'" Punk said. "And obviously everybody twists and contorts things that you say. For some reason a lot of people thought that meant I was fighting by the end of the year. No, I'm just an ambitious fellow."

Many of Punk's social media critics have said that they don't think he'll ever actually fight in the UFC. Punk thinks that theory is ridiculous.

"I don't get paid unless I fight," he said. "Why the hell wouldn't I fight? So I can get paid."

During his time off from training, Punk has moved back to Chicago from his rented place in Milwaukee near Roufusport. He said his teammates have been solid about keeping his head in the game. Punk said he believes his striking should be fine even now, but he's slightly "nervous" about grappling.

"I just don't want to throw any more wrenches in the plan," he said. "I don't want to reinjure it or further injure it."

Punk should be back in Milwaukee in the coming weeks. He got lucky that the injury wasn't more serious and he didn't need any kind of procedure. But this was not the setback he wanted, not when he felt like he was starting to get things fine-tuned.

"It is a bummer," Punk said. "The whole thing is a bummer."