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CM Punk retired from UFC competition as he returns to professional wrestling

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CM Punk makes weight at the UFC 203 weigh-ins Friday morning in Cleveland.
CM Punk makes weight at the UFC 203 weigh-ins Friday morning in Cleveland.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

CM Punk has notified the UFC that he has retired from mixed martial arts competition as he makes his full-time return to professional wrestling.

UFC officials confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Tuesday.

The move from Punk (real name Phil Brooks) isn’t exactly shocking considering he hasn’t fought since 2018 when he lost a unanimous decision to Mike Jackson at UFC 225. That loss was later overturned to a no-contest due to Jackson testing positive for marijuana.

While it seemed like Punk had long since put fighting behind him, the now 42-year-old mixed martial arts enthusiast remained part of the UFC’s anti-doping program through 2020 as he was regularly being tested by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

He was actually tested six time in 2020 alone.

His status changed in 2021, however, as Punk has not been tested at all this year as he notified the UFC about his retirement while plotting his return to pro wrestling after inking a deal with upstart promotion All Elite Wrestling,

Punk’s entry into the UFC was met with a lot of skepticism after he left his previous job with World Wrestling Entertainment and then started pursuing a potential fighting career. Despite previously only dabbling in grappling through Brazilian jiu-jitsu training, Punk was offered an opportunity to compete by UFC president Dana White.

He officially signed in 2014 but took more than a year to train for his debut while primarily working under head coach Duke Roufus and his team in Milwaukee. A back injury delayed his first fight but Punk eventually made his first appearance at UFC 203 in 2016 where he faced Mickey Gall.

The fight lasted just past the two-minute mark in the opening round as Gall submitted Punk with a rear-naked choke. Punk then took another long hiatus before booking his second fight against Jackson in 2018.

All signs pointed towards Punk possibly being released but he remained on the UFC roster while he transitioned into a commentary role while working for East coast-based promotion Cage Fury Fighting Championships.

Finally after seven years away from the ring, Punk signed a new deal to join AEW where he’s expected to make his debut for the promotion in September.

Overall, Punk’s run with the UFC will end with an 0-1 record with one no-contest, but since he’s technically retired, he could potentially return to the organization in the future if he ever decides to fight again.