PIPEBOMB! CM Punk is back.
As the self-proclaimed ‘Best in the World’ makes his full-time return to professional wrestling, we may, however, have seen the last of one Phil Brooks in the Octagon, with the news the 42-year-old has officially called time on his career in UFC.
If you’re a wrestling fan, and, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the better part of the last fortnight, you’ll have seen CM Punk make his electric comeback, appearing in All Elite Wrestling for the first time last month.
After his familiar ‘Cult of Personality’ entrance shook the United Center in his native Chicago to its foundations during AEW Rampage on August 20, the fan favourite’s seven-year exodus came to an explosive end with one of the most memorable returns in pro-wrestling history.
His MMA career was rather less so, however, and as Punk swaps one ring for another, he leaves behind a four-year career in UFC, which, to be brutally honest, never got off the ground. Or canvas.
Initially given a shot in UFC by president Dana White, at UFC 181 on December 6, 2014, Punk announced he had signed a multi-fight contract.
After sustaining injury to both his shoulder and back during training, however, Punk only made his MMA debut some 21 months later, on September 10, 2016 at UFC 203 versus Mickey Gall at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland – the same venue where he famously left WWE.
Punk’s debut was short and not particularly sweet, losing via rear naked choke submission early in round one.
His second pro bout then took place at UFC 225 in 2018, in his hometown of Chicago, against Mike Jackson. Punk showed promise, but ultimately lost by unanimous decision.
After White then urged Punk to “call it a wrap”, Punk did not compete in UFC again. Three years on from the bout, a no contest decision was then returned after Jackson tested positive for marijuana.
Despite not competing in UFC since 2018, Punk remained on the company’s anti-doping programme throughout 2020 and was tested a total of six times. However, after not having participated once this year, Punk’s route out of UFC was evident.
Having now penned an official long-term deal with Tony Khan and AEW, Punk is now back where he became a household name, the world of professional wrestling, despite his hopes of UFC stardom.
And perhaps, it is a blessing for all parties involved.