Saturday, August 13, 2016

Evolution of Punk

CM Punk's first match in the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon goes down at UFC 203 on September 10, live on pay-per-view. To lead up to that, a documentary about Punk's nearly two-year path from signing the contract to stepping in the ring will debut on August 15. The trailer is above.

I'm interested in watching the 4-part documentary. I'm not going out of my way to watch the fight, but if it's something I can easily view I'll check it out. I just don't have a huge interested in the UFC.

I do, however, have a huge interest in CM Punk. It's hard to put into words just how important he was for wrestling. He was the guy who didn't look like the typical WWE star, but went in and kicked down every door until the wrestling world was forced to notice and accept that he was a star.

But... the respect wasn't there from the WWE higher-ups, and it all culminated in Punk walking out of WWE in January 2014. He was formally released from WWE that summer. He received the papers on his wedding day. Vince McMahon has stated in an interview that it was an unfortunate coincidence; Punk doesn't believe that.

Punk has been a long-time UFC fan, so it didn't raise any eyebrows when people found out he was at the Nov. 2014 event. Nor did it arouse any suspicion when it was found out he was going to do an interview during the show. He's friends with a lot of UFC higher-ups and he's a good talker - why not get him on television?

He made the announcement and got the world talking. There was a lot of chatter about whether or not he deserved a UFC contract. People dedicate their lives to trying to make it to the UFC and never get there. And Punk was essentially handed one based on his celebrity status.

Punk began training in January 2015. People were eyeing a fight later that year, or maybe early 2016. A shoulder injury took him out for a couple months and the timeline went away. UFC head Dana White began an online reality show to find an opponent for Punk.

Mickey Gall ultimately won the chance to face Punk. They had a spring 2016 date set for the fight, but Punk required back surgery and they went back to the drawing board. After he was fully healed, they added the fight to the September event.

Two years of speculation - if he can do this or if he will fall flat on his face - will all culminate when Punk steps into the octagon in September. In a fitting irony, the building Punk will look to earn his respect in is the same building he walked out of in WWE. The Monday Night Raw in January 2014 and UFC 203 in September 2016 both call Cleveland, Ohio home.

We'll see what happens. I'm curious to watch it all unfold.

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