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Morning Report: Coach Duke Roufus says CM Punk has improved ‘200 percent’ since UFC debut

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CM Punk (EL, MMA Fighting)

In December 2014, the UFC signed former WWE champion CM Punk. It was a signing that was met with a healthy amount of derision. Two years later, Punk finally made his debut at UFC 203, getting demolished by Mickey Gall in slightly over two minutes. Punk hasn’t fought since then. But now, as a storm of rumors have kicked up about Punk getting a second shot in the UFC when the promotion returns to Chicago later this year, fans are left to consider what a second Punk fight will look like.

Well, according to his friend and coach, Duke Roufus, “better” is the answer.

Speaking to Luke Thomas yesterday on The Luke Thomas Show on SiriusXM Rush, Roufus said that Punk continued to improve since his loss to Gall and will look significantly better in his sophomore outing.

“200 percent [better],” said Roufus. “I’m not even his coach. We were friends first before we did this. I would not do this with anyone else except for my friendship with him from before he decided to fight. He’s just one hell of a guy. He’s a celebrity but he’s different than a lot of celebrities I know. Great guy. He works his ass off. He’s very well-liked on our team and he’s improved a lot.”

When Punk, real name Phil Brooks, signed with the UFC, he had no professional fighting background to speak of. Punk was just a retired professional wrestler who also was an avid MMA fan and wanted to try his hand at non-scripted fighting. And though he trained seriously for his UFC debut, Roufus was quick to point out that he did not get an easy debut opponent for a guy who has never fought before.

“Let’s face it, Mickey Gall was a tough draw,” said Roufus. “He’s done quite well in the UFC so far. I think the UFC did the right thing. We don’t want to defame the sport or damage it by putting him in an un-legitimate fight. That being said, it’s very hard. They want him to come in and beat somebody, ya know?”

Gall is an accomplished grappler turned legitimate prospect in the sport and their fight was never close to being close. . He earned the right to face CM Punk by beating Mike Jackson in his own UFC debut and the gulf in talent between Punk and Gall was obviously a bridge too far for Punk’s first fight. However, with another couple of years of training under him, Roufus says they have found a more suitable opponent for Punk to test himself against, though he won’t reveal any details at this time.

“We’re in the process of finishing up the bout agreement and the UFC’s gonna make the announcement soon,” said Roufus. “It’s a good match on both sides. Can’t confirm what date it is. Obviously we’re hoping it’s Chicago, to join Sergio and a bunch of our other teammates on that card.”

Punk also is a native of Chicago and has an enormous fan following there. When the UFC announced they would be returning to The Windy City for UFC 225 this summer, it was widely speculated that Punk would be on that card, possibly against the man Gall beat to get to fight him, Mike Jackson.

Whoever he is facing though, Roufus feels good about Punk’s progress in the sport because, he says, Punk has the most important aspect of any successful fighter, a great work ethic.

“He’s worked his butt off,” concluded Roufus. “Very dedicated guy and I respect him a lot because he comes in and takes his lumps. I’m not saying getting beat up or anything erroneously, but he comes in, he’s tired and he’s exhausted There’s no celebrity about him. He grinds just like everyone else. That’s why he got to the top of the wrestling world and that’s why I respect him so much. I love anyone that has a great attitude and works hard. You help but love them, win lose or draw. This is the fight game and it all comes down to effort most of the time.”

UFC 225 takes place on June 9th in Chicago, Illinois.


MUST-READ STORIES

Raving. Floyd Mayweather says he’s going to start training MMA ‘soon,’ claims his wrestling game is a ‘seven’ out of 10.

Rowdy. Ronda Rousey making move into combat sports management.

Roddy. Owen Roddy: Conor McGregor probably finishes Max Holloway in rematch

Retirement. Despite Luke Rockhold barbs, Michael Bisping says he doesn’t know if he’ll ever fight again.

Roster. Dana White joins roster of UFC 3 video game.

226. Cris Cyborg sets deadline for Amanda Nunes superfight.

170. Jack Marshman vs. Brad Scott scrapped from UFC London.


VIDEO STEW

The MMA Beat.

After the Beat.

Werdum interview.

Schaub’s Below the Belt.

Styles make fights.

Foot update.


LISTEN UP

Heavy Hands. Somewhat heated discussion about Manuwa-Blachowicz.

Before the Battle. Breaking down all the fights from UFC London.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Do tell.

No Time getting short shrift.

The media’s so they don’t have to spend a full week to cover one event.

Chael being Chael.

Good guy Khabib.

Tony Ferguson hates his own body.

Savage.

Name a more iconic duo.

USADA.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Erik Perez (17-6) vs. D.J. Fuentes (13-10, 1 NC); Combate Estrellas 2, April 20.

Justin Willis (6-1) vs. Chase Sherman (11-4); UFC Atlantic City, April 21.

Dillon Danis (0-0) vs. Kyle Walker (2-4); Bellator 198, April 28.

Matt Hamill (12-8) vs. Teddy Ash (9-3); Unified MMA, May 11.

Mackenzie Dern (6-0) vs. Amanda Cooper (3-3); UFC 224, May 12.

Angela Lee (8-0) vs. Mei Yamaguchi (17-10-1); ONE Championship, May 18.


TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

2003: Fedor Emelianenko won the Pride heavyweight title by dominating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at Pride 25.

2013: Georges St-Pierre won a unanimous decision over Nick Diaz at UFC 158.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Another fight weekend is upon us, and while it’s not the best, at least we get that FightPass pacing. Enjoy the weekend and see y’all Monday.


EXIT POLL

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