CM Punk fought his first fight in the UFC at UFC 203 in September 2016. It did not go well. Veteran MMA fighter Mickey Gall went in as the heavy favorite and came out of the fight having proved a statement. Mixed martial arts is no place for a "wrestler" to try and make his mark.
Punk's debut went as many predicted. Despite Punk's training and respectful attitude toward the sport of MMA (something he did not show to his former employer the WWE), the matchup was extremely uneven and saw Gall dominate Punk from the outset before submitting him with a rear-naked choke two minutes and fourteen seconds into the first round.
The loss didn't deter Punk from calling it a challenge he intends to face again. One loss wasn't going to define his legacy in the UFC, and he was eagerly awaiting another matchup to prove his determination would eventually pay dividends. It sounded good from someone who was easily beaten but after that, Punk was relatively quiet. So was the UFC.
It started to appear like Punk and the UFC were not going to rekindle their relationship. There was even buzz that Punk would be returning to the WWE after an accidental Hulu marketing campaign promoted Punk on a SmackDown Live advertisement. But according to his mixed martial arts head coach, Duke Roufus, Punk being done with MMA is far from the case.
Last Thursday, Roufus posted a picture detailing his fighters' records in the UFC for 2017 to his official Instagram page. As you can see, Punk's named was included in the post, with a to be announced abbreviation underneath it.
I am such a firm believer in #team Together Everyone Achieves More! Every year I strive to get better as a coach and build a great team culture. I am so proud of all of our team, staff and students. We Are Having Fun Getting It Done! I have the pleasure of being a part the team of current @ufc Welterweight Champion #tyronwoodley @twooodley former #ufc and #wec Champion #anthonypettis @showtimepettis Top Flyweight Contender #sergiopettis @sergiopettis #bellator Featherweight Contender #emanuelsanchez @matadorsanchez former #wwe Champion #cmpunk @cmpunk my longtime team member #erikkoch @kocheadufc rising KO Artist #paulfelder @felderpaul surging Welterweight #belalmuhammad @bullyb170 Bellator Middleweight #mikerhodes @teamrocbiggie and Middleweight Submission specialist #geraldmeerschaert @the_gm3 as members of our @roufusport team collectively they are 13-3, 9-2 in the UFC in 2-1 Bellator so far this year! The best has yet to come #roufusport #MartialArts is #Life thanks for the past & future memories. #onelove
What isn't clear from the social media post is whether or not Punk's return to MMA will be with the UFC. UFC's Dana White has not revealed further future plans for Punk and has yet to hold talks with the former WWE heavyweight champion.
If this is just wishful thinking by Roufus and should an opponent not be determined, Punk has an open invitation to return to professional wrestling. There is widespread speculation that ROH would take him on as a roster talent in a heartbeat and that the WWE too would not only consider but open their arms to a CM Punk return.
Needless to say, the WWE Universe has jumped all over the news of CM Punk and his uncertain future. Many are speculating a return at SummerSlam. This most recent development leads to the belief that a WWE return isn't likely anytime soon.