clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Duke Roufus: Things are ‘looking hopeful’ for CM Punk’s next fight being in UFC

New, comments
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

TORONTO – CM Punk’s UFC debut back in September didn’t go as he’d hoped — in fact, it went south in such a hurry that plenty of people thought his bout with Mickey Gall would ultimately play out as a one-and-done.

Yet during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour the former WWE star declared his intentions of returning to the cage. And not just any cage, but preferably the Octagon in the UFC.

Count his coach Duke Roufus among those who would like to see that happen. Roufus, who has been training the 38-year-old Punk in Milwaukee for nearly two years, still sees Punk’s potential in sport, and is optimistic he’ll get a mulligan in the UFC. And with the new entertainment-based ownership group WME-IMG at the helm, he says that Punk’s star power shouldn’t be understated.

Roufus says Punk has been training hard since his setback against Gall, and that he continues to improve.

"It’s great, personalities drive this sport," Roufus told MMA Fighting. "He’s going to get better. Obviously, he didn’t perform the way we wanted to perform. We had some things he was doing really well with, he just didn’t happen. It’s just going to take time. But the great thing is he has an incredible attitude, and he’s very thankful for the opportunities. He’s getting better, he’s back in training and right after this fight I’ll picking up big time with him."

Roufus is in Toronto this week for UFC 206, where he’ll be cornering his longtime charge Anthony Pettis for his interim title fight with Max Holloway. With Anthony fighting this week, and Sergio Pettis fighting Jan. 15 in Arizona, it’s a busy time for Roufusport.

Or, as Roufus calls it, a "blessed time."

Yet people have been torn as to whether or not Punk should (or would) return to the UFC, after the unceremonious way he went out in Cleveland (first round rear-naked choke).

Roufus said that there are hopeful signs that Punk will get a second chance to prove himself at this level, rather than on the regional circuit or with Bellator.

"Yeah, definitely, I believe he and Dana are talking," he said. "I just talked to Punk on Monday before that, and things are looking hopeful. I can’t say yes or no, but they’re looking hopeful. We’re going to see. Dana’s always got a good recipe of what he’s going to create, and what’s best for the sport, and what’s best for Punk and everyone else."

Asked when he’s like to see Punk return, Roufus had an idea that it might not be too far off.

"Maybe four or five months," he said.