A sold out partisan crowd in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena chanting his name over the familiar sounds of Living Colour’s ‘Cult of Personality’, and CM Punk was looking like the happiest man in all of Chi-Town as he walked to the cage for his professional MMA & UFC debut against Micky Gall. It was the culmination of two year’s worth of unrelenting training under the tutelage of one of the top camps in the sport, and Punk was ready to prove the legion of naysayers wrong. Stepping into the Octagon was seen by many as a victory in its own right for the Chicago-native, and it was looking like being a celebratory night for Punk as he basked in the adoration of his thousands of fans.
2 minutes 14 seconds later, Gall was having his hand raised after one of the most dominant main-card fights in recent history and a bloodied-Punk was left wondering how it had gotten so ugly, so fast.
Punk started out quick looking for a haymaker (just as Gall’s camp had predicted weeks prior to the fight on CM Punk’s own documentary,) and was immediately taken down against the cage with a double-leg; Gall then landed with a number of flush elbows and hammering blows before effortlessly stepping over Punk’s guard and transitioning into a rear-naked choke. To Punk’s credit he did briefly slip out of Gall’s submission, but it was to be only the very briefest of respites as Gall cinched it in for a second time and forced Punk to tap for the first round submission victory. It was the obvious outcome, and even those in Punk’s close-circle could not have expected any different; Joe Rogan summed the ordeal up on commentary, remarking that ; ‘this is what happens when a white belt rolls with a brown belt’.
Many of the fighters within the UFC have been vocal about the UFC’s decision to include Punk on the card, and feel that his inclusion takes away from what it means to compete in the UFC, and the sacrifices that all other fighters have made just to have a shot at appearing on the card. ‘Filthy’ Tom Lawlor tweeted that the entire experiment was an ‘insult’, whilst Jon Jones mockingly tweeted his preference to ‘see Bieber fight next’.
The Flipside - Punk helps UFC 203 card draw monster PPV buyrate
From a business perspective, snatching CM Punk from the clutches of Bellator over a year ago seemed like a no-brainer; however as injuries delayed Punk’s UFC debut, many were wondering if his starpower had taken a hit and as a result the buyrate would suffer. Early number suggest that this hasn’t been the case and a card without any of the UFC's current big hitters (Lesnar, McGregor, Jones & Rousey), resting on the shoulders of Punk & to some extent, Miocic, has drawn somewhere in the region of 700, 000 buys - far exceeding what was estimated for UFC 203. In terms of the bottom-line, that’s a hugely successful number.
At the close of the event in Cleveland, Dana White was quick to state that if Punk were to continue his MMA journey, it would not be in partnership with a future UFC event - however the UFC brass may be having second thoughts given the numbers that Punk helped bring in. In addition to the extra eyeballs and attention brought to the UFC, Micky Gall, who is by all standards a ‘rank-and-file’ fighter, has seen his star rise considerably - and a possible bout with Sage Northcutt could well be taking place on a UFC main card in the not so near future.
This is obviously a really contentious subject, one of many that took place this weekend - including faulty elevators, a nauseating eye poke, a bizarre impromptu timeout and Alistair Overeem actively running from Miocic. Let us know your two-cents by leaving a comment below or, as always, following Made4Fighters on social media.