The social media feud between Irishman Cathal Pendred and CM Punk has escalated to the point where some people are now hoping to see them fight. The problem is that the former professional wrestler CM Punk -- real name Phil Brooks -- has never been in an MMA bout, while Pendred has been in 21, including five in the UFC.
So how does an odd couple like this come together? Through backhanded self-deprecation, it turns out.
Last week Pendred posted a tweet with a short interview between FOX and CM Punk, in which B-roll was played of his hitting pads at Roufusport in Milwaukee. "CM Punk on the pads making me look like Muhammad Ali," the message said.
CM Punk saw it and responded, which kicked off a back-and-forth between the two. Because CM Punk has over two million Twitter followers and something like 100 fighters calling him out, all of it took Pendred -- who was a guest on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour -- by surprise.
"I didn’t even call him out last week," the 27-year old Pendred told Ariel Helwani. "I put out a tweet with a short clip of him hitting pads, and I didn’t use his Twitter handle or tag him in it or anything. I just put the video up. And you know me, as the Irish say, I’m always having a little bit of ‘craic.’ I was actually more wrecking the piss out of myself than I was CM Punk. Everyone knows my stand-up hasn’t looked too beautiful since my UFC career started. And I just said, look at this guy, he makes me look like Muhammad Ali hitting the pads. So, I was actually just insulting myself in a half-hearted way."
In December, the UFC announced that CM Punk had signed with the promotion. Eight months later he is still training with Duke Roufus in Wisconsin to prepare himself for his debut, which could occur in early-2016. Though there has been wild speculation as to whom he might face in his first UFC fight, one constant seems to be that it will do big numbers on a pay-per-view. That also means big exposure, big pay day, big build-up.
Those thoughts alone have warmed Pendred to the idea of welcoming the former pro wrestling star, whom he refers to as "Chick Magnet," to the Octagon.
"The day that he got signed by the UFC I said the Chick Magnet fight was a lottery ticket," he said. "He is the lottery ticket. I think every fighter should want that fight that’s in the UFC. There’s a lot of money to be made, and I’m one of the guys that’s on his division, so I definitely wouldn’t turn it down.
"I actually think that I’m in the pole position for it now because, nearly every guy in middleweight and welterweight has called the guy out, and he hasn’t responded to any of them.
"I was having a great time with it to be honest, I thought it was brilliant. That just makes me think that maybe this guy is delusional, as some of the fans that he has, and actually thinks that he could beat me in a fight.
Pendred is coming off a split-decision loss against John Howard at UFC 189, just one month after winning a unanimous decision over Augusto Montano at UFC 188 in Mexico City. As a native of Ireland, Pendred is now booked for a fight against Tom Breese at UFC Fight Night 76 on Oct. 24 in Dublin. His current record in the UFC stands at 4-1, though his style of fighting has rubbed some people the wrong way. His last four fights have gone to a decision, with only his UFC debut against Mike King resulting in a finish.
Pendred stopped King with a second-round rear-naked choke the last time the UFC visited Dublin.
Asked why he though CM Punk responded to him out of everybody else, Pendred said he thought he might be a desired target.
"I genuinely feel like he’s responding to me just because he feels that he might have a shot, or else he feels like he could maybe at least not die in there with me," he said. "I’ve seen in a lot of his interviews since he joined [the UFC], he looks more scared now than he did -- I think he looks more unsure of himself now than he did when he first decided to do this. I think he’s in the gym now and he’s having a hard time and he’s realized, I bit off more than I can chew now.
"I reckon he thinks Pendred is the way to go, and if that’s the way he wants to go, there’s a couple of hundred thousand reasons I think it will be the way to go, too."
Pendred said he didn’t necessarily have anything against CM Punk. He said he just wanted to point out worse stand-up than his own.
"My striking has looked atrocious in the UFC so far, and that’s the type of guy I am," he said. "I have no problem ripping it out of myself. But [CM Punk’s footage] made me look good. I’ve seen boxercise classes where people were hitting the pads better than that."