Since CM Punk (Phillip Jack Brooks) announced that he would make his MMA debut at the age of 37 in the largest Mixed Martial Arts promotion in the world, fans have been unsure of what they might see from him. Once that special announcement was made, both fans and fighters have been excited to see how well he transitions and what a solid athlete with legions of fans can bring to the sport. On the other hand, his announcement has left some fighters feeling really bitter. The reason being that some athletes have worked for years and have never stepped foot in the octagon. This causes a resentment rarely seen in professional sports, as what one has earned and what is deserved are coming into question. Others fighters view this as a great opportunity for the sport, as they know more fans and more eyeballs will be on the fights and eventually on them, if they fight on the same card.
Whether you decide to love or hate CM Punk and his upcoming fight in the UFC, you have to admire him for deciding to step into the octagon and show that it wasn’t all for show. With that in mind, here are 8 reasons he'll flourish and 8 reasons he'll flop.
16 Flop: Past and Present Injuries
15 Flourish: Training, Training and More Training
Isolation and improvement. CM Punk has, to my knowledge, two houses. One of them is in Chicago and one of them is in Milwaukee. Of the two locations, Milwaukee is more isolated, offers less distraction and has Roufusport Gym. There is a schedule that looks like: wake up and train, take a mid-day nap, come back and train, go home, eat dinner, come to the evening classes. Quite simply, train.
14 Flop: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
13 Flourish: Training BJJ in a Gi and No-Gi
At the same time, his BJJ will likely still be solid. The Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that he is learning is not nice. Some BJJ schools teach a very nice, pretty style of competition, but Carlson Gracie Sr does not teach that. Everything hurts.
Another fact that helps him is the fact that people who train to compete in MMA often skip training in the Gi. No one wants to wear the Gi because no one wears one in the octagon, so what’s the point?
12 Flop: His In-Gym Fights Have Been Less Than Impressive
11 Flourish: Cardio Monster Machine
Cardio is the king of everything. If you have no cardio, you better hope you can end the fight in 30 seconds. If you can knock people out with the tap of a finger or dead lift 1000 pounds, you better hope it doesn’t go into rounds two or three because then cardio and the human heart's ability to functionally delivery oxygen throughout the body becomes more important than any skill you’ve ever learned.
10 Flop: No Martial Arts Background
9 Flourish: MMA is Safer than Wrestling
8 Flop: The Jiu-Jitsu CM Punk Does Have, Will be Completely Ineffective
7 Flourish: Natural Weight and Normal Sized Humans
6 Flop: Ring Rust Would be Something...
5 Flourish: Unfazed by Fight Week
4 Flop: His Striking will be Subpar
His striking will not be where it needs to be. Let me say now, Duke Roufus is without a doubt one of the greatest coaches for Muay Thai in MMA. Watch the video when Roufus is at Greg Jackson’s camp and talking with Jon Jones. Jones has been called one of the greatest fighters in the history of combat sports and, even Jones was still learning simple ways to bring his leg back to strike harder and conserve energy from Duke Roufus. Think about that, as advanced as Jon Jones is, he is still learning and perfecting basics from Duke Roufus.
3 Flourish: He has Grit
2 Flop: His First Opponent is No Joke
1 Flourish: Finally has a Place to Call Home
The number one reason he'll succeed is a mixture of the things that could still cause him to lose. His inexperience means he has no bad habits. He is a sponge, learning from the best in the world and he doesn’t have to break the bad habits he's learned from coaches and fighters along the way. Fighters have bad habits, some work on them and some never figure them out.
For example, Chael Sonnen sucks at triangle choke defense. He never improved at dealing with them as the fights went on. CM Punk is a mystery and all the bad habits he picks up now are instantly thrown out by champion fighters and coaches telling him what really works and what doesn’t.
Also, he’s home. This moment in his career is light years easier than his previous career because the grind of being on the road is gone. He gets to go home, see his family, work with his friends and not have to worry about town names, what to eat, where to eat, where to workout, how to work out and whatever else. It's a grind, but it's a much better to go home at the end of every day rather than checking into another hotel room. For that reason alone, he's already won.
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