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Former UFC stars Brock Lesnar, CM Punk receive riotous receptions in return to professional wrestling

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Former UFC stars Brock Lesnar and CM Punk both received a hero’s welcome as they both returned to professional wrestling this past weekend.

For Lesnar, his appearance at WWE Summerslam was definitely a surprise as the ultra-private former UFC heavyweight champion rarely talks to media much less tips his hand at what exactly he has in store for the future.

Following a brief return to fighting at UFC 200, Lesnar flirted with another fight against Daniel Cormier after confronting the two-time Olympian just moments after he claimed the heavyweight title with a first-round knockout over Stipe Miocic in 2018. There were rumors for months that the fight between Lesnar and Cormier would be booked but eventually UFC president Dana White said the ex-champ was done with his mixed martial arts career.

Lesnar then wrapped up his run with WWE during an appearance at WrestleMania in early 2020, which was the end of his current contract with the promotion.

A few months later, White teased that he might be interested in booking Lesnar against former 205-pound champion Jon Jones as he planned a move to heavyweight. Once again, Lesnar’s name was mentioned but there were no serious talks about actually making the fight happen.

Since that time, Lesnar has largely stayed off the radar but then on Saturday night at the conclusion of the main event at Summerslam where Roman Reigns (real name Leati Joseph Anoa’i) defeated John Cena in the marquee match of the evening. Just seconds after the match ended, Lesnar’s music hit the loud speakers as the crowd at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas came unglued.

Lesnar eventually made his way to the ring as the show closed, which obviously signified his return to WWE after inking a new deal with the organization.

One day before Lesnar made his return to WWE, two-time UFC veteran CM Punk (real name Phil Brooks) also stepped back into the professional wrestling ring for the first time in seven years.

Punk left WWE in 2014 and eventually turned his attention to mixed martial arts in order to live out his dream to transition into professional fighting. Unfortunately, Punk fell short in both of his bouts in the UFC after falling to Mickey Gall by submission and then dropping a decision to Mike Jackson in 2018 (that result was later overturned to a no contest due to Jackson testing positive for marijuana).

While he was no longer fighting, Punk remained a fixture in MMA as a color commentator for Cage Fury Fighting Championships, which airs live on UFC Fight Pass.

On Friday night with All Elite Wrestling in his hometown of Chicago, Punk finally made his return to pro wrestling after inking a deal with the upstart promotion owned by Tony Khan, who is the son of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan.

Punk was showered with adoration from the Chicago crowd as he confirmed his full-time return to pro wrestling while also booking his first match back on Sept. 5 with the event held in the nearby suburb of Hoffman Estates, Ill.

With his last fight in the UFC more than three years ago, it seemed like Punk was never planning to compete in MMA again, although he was actually still being drug tested by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. In fact, Punk was tested six times in 2020, although he hasn’t been tested at all in 2021 and that likely means he’s been removed from the pool for active fighters.

It’s unclear if Punk has officially been released from his UFC contract, although White previously gave his blessing if former WWE champion wanted to make his return to pro wrestling.