Despite the hype behind the upcoming CM Punk contest at UFC 203, Mr. Punk, (also known as Mr. Brooks), is not the first professional wrestler to try his hand at cage fighting; one Brock Lesnar, (also known as Brock Lesnar), comes to mind. However, when we get past Lesnar, we have to search far and wide to find anyone of notice who has transitioned from the “entertainment” world of the WWE, or even from other combat sports, to the seemingly “fight to the death” world of the UFC.
The ones we do find who were in the pro wrestling game first turn out to be of the “one and done” variety once they get into the octagon. With that said, there are a decent amount of athletes who have successfully competed in both promotions, but more often than not, they are already established MMA fighters who, for one reason or another, have taken up a residency with the costumed characters who spend much of their time diving from the top ropes or flying out of the ring due to the mysterious “ghost punch.”
With UFC 203 just around the corner, here are 15 reasons why CM Punk will get his backside handed to him at UFC 203.
15. WWE Requirements To Become A Professional Wrestler
To become a professional wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), one is required to meet a certain set of standards. The application, (yes, much like trying to get a job at McDonald’s, there is an actual application to be filled out), asks for pertinent information such as the amount of time spent training, the places one has trained, and any previous professional wrestling experience. If the application ended there, a person may feel that the WWE is a serious sport for legitimate and dedicated athletes; unfortunately, the application continues on.
According to World Wrestling Entertainment’s recruitment arm, the WWE “places heavy emphasis on ‘the look’ of a performer.” The application asks for the following; “1 simple ‘head to toe’ body shot (men – without a shirt, women – in gym clothing) 1 simple head shot. If you wear a mask, please include shots of you both in and out of the mask.” They go on to inquire about previous performance training as well as any additional talents such as the ability to speak more than one language, act and even sing.
14. Requirements To Become A UFC Fighter
While the WWE does ask its actors, (urr… athletes), to have some level of athleticism, their requirements fall short of those from “The Company.” While persons interested in a career in World Wrestling Entertainment can fill out an application, those who want to test their skills in the Ultimate Fighting Championship are chosen from a select few of already proven elite fighters.
The UFC not only requires that its prospects spend years fighting “professionally in smaller organizations,” but they must also have extensive training in multiple disciplines such as Jiu Jitsu, Muy Thai, freestyle wrestling and striking before any consideration is given.
To reach this level, fighters must spend countless hours in the gym with multiple trainers and sparring partners, adhere to a strict diet that would make a triathlete wince, and punish their bodies to exhaustion and physical failure. Then and only then do they have a shot at the UFC octagon.
13. CM Punk Got A Free Pass From The Ohio State Athletic Commission
The Ohio State Athletic Commission has a rule in place that in order to get a license to fight in a mixed martial arts tournament such as UFC 203, a fighter must have already completed a minimum of five fights at the professional level. It’s reasonable to think that the rationale behind having such a rule is that it will prevent any Joe Schmo with zero experience from coming in off the street and getting his head caved in by an elite MMA fighter. However, for reasons known only to God, the astute commission members from the Buckeye state decided to forgo that policy and have granted this professional wrestler from Chicago a license for what will likely be the first sanctioned homicide committed on national television.
12. It’s All About The $$$
Mr. Brooks has acted in over one thousand performances with seventeen different promotions; a number that rivals even the most popular of Broadway musicals; his statistics are more impressive when we consider his winning record at 59 percent. Punk also is known for two of the scariest finishing moves in professional wrestling today; the Anaconda Vice, and the GTS or “Go to Sleep” move which involves a fireman’s carry dropped into a knee lift. The larger than life personality from the Windy City has also mastered such moves as the Hurricanrana, Koji Clutch, and the legendary Mongolian chop.
So why is Dana White giving CM Punk an opportunity against one of his fighters? Because it will be a financial windfall for the UFC promotion. Punk was one of the most popular wrestlers in the history of the WWE. He held the WWE title for a record 434 days and generating huge PPV money for Vince McMahon and Co; and it is the UFC president’s hope that the sheer presence of C.M. will result in huge PPV numbers for “The Company.”
11. What UFC fighters Think Of CM Punk And His UFC Debut
From day one of the announcement, legitimate UFC fighters met the idea with both frustration and disgust. For them, fighting at the elite level is not only a way to make money; it is a way of life. In regards to Punk, Nate Diaz, one to never shy away from speaking his mind, stated that “He has got no fights. I know he’s a big draw. I looked him up. Everyone’s going to buy tickets. It’s going to be great for the venue and the UFC, but at the same time, it downgrades all the fighters.”
UFC veteran heavyweight Matt Brown recently stated, “I criticized him for the fact that he’s not a fighter. He doesn’t deserve to fight in the UFC with no fights. I don’t believe he deserves to fight in the UFC based off the name he made in pro-wrestling.”
UFC killer Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin echoes that sentiment, “For somebody just to not even get one fight, just to have his first fight in the UFC, it’s like, it just waters down what the f**k I do.”
10. NFL To MMA: Brendan Schaub And Matt Mitrione
While Brendan Schaub proved to have a pretty successful career in the octagon, he didn’t start out there. Schaub played football in college before moving onto the indoor arena football league, that was followed by a stint as a member of the practice squad for the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise.
“The Hybrid” as he is known around the UFC was already a long time martial arts practitioner even before his stints in football, so his transition to the professional mixed martial arts world was not a difficult one. He secured a spot to compete in the UFC’s “Ultimate Fighter” where he went on to the heavyweight finale only to lose to another future UFC champ, Roy Nelson. However, this exposure brought him into the UFC where he fought to a record of 11-5-0 before officially calling it quits in 2015. CM Punk is no Brendan Schaub.
9. Matt Mitrione
Much like Brendan Schaub, Matt Mitrione played football at both the college and professional levels. After a couple of seasons with both the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings, the former defensive tackle decided to take his talents to the mixed martial arts world. Also like Schaub, Mitrione worked his way onto UFC’s “Ultimate Fighter” where he defeated Marcus Johnson in the season 10 Finale.
Matt’s performance was impressive enough to Dana White and the UFC brass to earn him a spot in “the company” where he made his debut in UFC 113 where he scored a TKO over Ferguson. The heavyweight went on to defeat his next three opponents before losing to UFC vet Cheick Kongo. Mitrione compiled the same record as Schaub, 11-5, and continues to compete. CM Punk is no Matt Mitrione.
8. Pro Wrestling To MMA: Brock Lesnar And Bobby Lashley
Brock Lesnar may be one of the more legendary men to both perform in the WWE and fight in the UFC. Before Brock entered into the entertainment realm of wrestling, he was a legitimate, division I college wrestler at the University of Minnesota where he racked up a staggering record of 106 wins against only 5 losses. He was also 2000 NCAA Heavyweight Champion, a two-time NCAA All-American, and a two-time Big Ten Conference Champion.
Much like CM Punk, Lesnar had great success in professional wrestling which translated in incredible public appeal making him a wanted commodity in MMA. After fighting and winning one fight in Japan’s K-1 promotion, Lesnar signed with the UFC where he would go on to achieve a 6-3 record, beating some of the biggest names in the sport and becoming the heavyweight champion.
7. Bobby “Lashley” Lashley
Bobby Lashley is another example of an athlete with a collegiate sports background who started out in the ranks of professional wrestling and was able to make a fairly successful transition into mixed martial arts. He was a three-time collegiate amateur wrestling champion which he followed with a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics title. Bobby continued to wrestle during a stint in the United States Army. As a professional wrestler, Lashley excelled, winning the heavyweight title in the ECW promotion multiple times and becoming a big audience draw.
After spending years on various pro wrestling circuits, Lashley moved into the octagon and rattled off wins in his first five contests. He continued to compete in a variety of MMA promotions including Bellator, Strikeforce and Titan FC to this day and currently holds a record of 14 wins and only 2 losses. However, with all of his accomplishments, Lashley never made it to the biggest of MMA promotions, the UFC. With that said, his combat experience was light years ahead of Punk’s.
6. Professional Boxers Who Have Tested The Deep Waters Of Mixed Martial Arts
If there is any argument to be made for an athlete to successfully make the crossover into the world of mixed martial arts, it is the professional boxer. Through their complex training regimen, these elite fighters meet many of the requirements necessary to compete in the cage of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
To reach the upper echelons of professional boxing, fighters must structure their lives and dedicate themselves in much the same way that mixed martial artists do. These pugilists become masters of body movement and control, developing the ability to maneuver around the ring with the agility and precision necessary to both avoid and attack their opponents; and to compete at the pinnacle, they must train to become expert in a wide array of fighting techniques, spending hour after hour working on their jab, hook, uppercut and so on.
5. James “Lights Out” Toney
At the time of his retirement, James Toney had already cemented his legacy in professional boxing. “Lights Out” held IBF titles in three different weight classes, had fought a ridiculous 682 rounds, and amassed an impressive 76 wins, (46 via the KO). One might think that a man of such credentials should be able to hold his own in the UFC, no less walk away with a title to place next to his IBF belts, but UFC Hall of Famer, Randy Couture had other ideas.
Recognized as one of the founding fathers of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Couture understood that it would be pure suicide to attempt to strike/box with the former IBF champ, so Randy took him to the ground and submitted him within the first two minutes of the first round at UFC 118 and forcing Toney to never again returned to the octagon. CM Punk is no James “Lights Out” Toney.
4. Ray “Merciles” Mercer
Ray “Merciless” Mercer is a great example of a legendary boxer who decided to throw his hat into the octagon. A former WBO heavyweight title holder and Olympic gold medalist, Mercer completed his boxing career at 36-7-1 with almost 60 percent of his wins coming via the knockout. However, his enormous success in the squared circle only vaguely translated into success in mixed martial arts. The pugilist’s first foray into MMA resulted in a submission via guillotine choke at the hands of legendary backyard brawler, Kimbo Slice in a non-UFC event. Mercer then took the next two years to get himself together before taking another shot, this time in the Adrenaline MMA 3 event where it took Mercer one punch to dispatch of MMA veteran Tim Sylvia. CM Punk is no Ray “Merciless” Mercer.
3. The Punk’s Progression
In their desire to promote the fight, the UFC has created a long running series documenting CM Punk’s training sessions. This is the same concept as another UFC reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter.” However: while the CM Punk embedded series of videos are going to focus on the positives and may help him connect on a human level with UFC fans, they may not be showing the entire picture.
According to wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, “There are numerous accounts that say Punk has been working hard but he has not progressed well as a fighter. Punk has participated in live sparring sessions at the gym and there have been a lot of rumors about how he looked, but it’s been consistently said that he has not fared well.”
2. Mickey Gall Is A Beast (Ok, He May Not Be A Beast, But He Will Still Embarrass Punk)
Although Mickey Gall is new to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he should not have too much trouble dispatching of Punk in short order. While the young upstart has had only four fights (four more than Punk) and possesses a limited record of 1-0 in the UFC, the New Jersey native holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has been training in mixed martial arts for years.
Speculation is that Dana White purposely chose such a young and inexperienced fighter so that the contest is not a complete and utter embarrassment for Punk and his fanbase; a fanbase that the UFC president would very much like to draw over to his promotion.
White and the UFC brass may be thinking that if they were to stack Punk up against a seasoned veteran with a winning record, WWE fans may not want to kick out the $55 PPV knowing that their guy will be annihilated within the first minute.
1. CM Punk Is Not Really A Punk, But He Will Still Lose
Punk officially retired from the WWE so that he could dedicate all of his time and energy to this endeavor. Prior to training for this fight, Punk has had no real fighting experience; however, much is being made of the time and dedication he is putting towards his training, deservedly so.
He has spent the last two years to prepare for his indoctrination into the UFC under the leadership of Duke Roufus at the Roufusport gym in Milwaukee where he has been working alongside legitimate UFC elites including Anthony Pettis, Matt Mitrione and Ben Rothwell. However, while two years may appear to be a sufficient amount of time to prepare for one fight, the finer points must be taken into account.
A black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can take anywhere from 8-14 years to achieve. The arts of kickboxing and Muay Thai require at least four years to become proficient, and another four to eight to become expert; and freestyle wrestling can take up to ten years before one can call themselves “elite.” None of this is good news for that man from the Windy City, and at the end of the day, it will equate to an “L” in the record books.