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Opinion: No Matter What Happens At UFC 203, CM Punk Is A Winner

Opinion: No Matter What Happens At UFC 203, CM Punk Is A Winner
By John Balfe
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Whatever happens in the quarter hour or so after he walks in the UFC octagon next Saturday night for the first real fight of his life, CM Punk should be pleased with his night's work.

He will take a few licks when he faces promising youngster Mickey Gall in Cleveland, and he will hope to land a few of his own, but the real battle will have been waged long before he makes his walk to the cage.

Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, was a star in the world of professional wrestling - a game where, while the number one rule is to avoid actually intentionally hurting your opponent, the physical toll your body takes is very real. He walked away from Vince McMahon and the WWE while at the very summit of the business. He was one of the most popular performers to grace the squared circle in years. His contract was very attractive. The fans idolised him.

Yet, despite achieving everything he set out to do in the world of sports entertainment, something still irked him. The bumps and bruises are very real but the competition is not - and CM Punk is a competetive guy.

So he walked away.


Citing a list of injuries which would render you or I unable to function in society, as well as hugely draining travel schedule, CM Punk told Vince McMahon and Paul 'Triple H' Levesque that he was "going home". He told his fans that he would "never, ever" return to wrestling. And with the WWE losing one of their biggest stars in a decade, the UFC saw an opportunity.

Phil Brooks won't be the first person to segue from professional wrestling to mixed martial arts. But in Brock Lesnar's case, he had a legitmate collegiate career in amateur wrestling (one of the building blocks of MMA) to refer back to. CM Punk began his MMA training with nothing other than a positive attitude and a blue belt in brazilian jiu jitsu and with that becomes arguably the least qualified man to ever set foot inside a cage.


But in a way, he has already won.

Speaking at a media day to promote his fight, Punk said:

People expect me to get knocked out. People expect me to get startched in 30 seconds. And there’s people out there who realise that once I step into the Octagon, I’ve already won.

I don’t care if someone wants to make fun of my technique, how not crisp my right hand is – it’s gonna land – that’s the one punch I care about, the one that lands. Tell me I didn’t turn my wrist over soon enough, I don’t care – it landed – and that’s how I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people.

Whether it goes three rounds or three seconds, my hand will be raised; that’s what I expec. I expect to show up in the best shape of my life, the happiest I’ve ever been, and happy looking in the mirror before the fight knowing (I did a) job well done.

Now, don't get us wrong. We are not saying that it's a formality that CM Punk will win his fight against Mickey Gall on September 10th. In fact, the bookies have him as a big underdog and that sounds about right. He will be 38 in October. His body is already battle worn, and that's before the shoulder injury and herniated disc in his back he picked up training with his head coach Duke Roufus.


But the very fact that he will make the walk under the bright lights of the UFC next Saturday night means that, for the first time in his life, CM Punk will be in a real fight. And he couldn't be happier.

This is my story, this is about me wanting, and almost needing, to do something, just to prove to myself that I can. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

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