Since he announced his UFC contract eight months ago in December of 2014, CM Punk has been attacked by many outlets including fans, media, and other fighters. Though it may seem that the former WWE Heavyweight Champion has been arrogant by responding to naysayers aggressively, keep in mind that these interactions were reactionary. Clips of Punk yelling at fans, or walking out of interviews, are due to being antagonized for long periods of time. Punk infamously went viral for his actions on Off the Record, where he and host Michael Landsberg got into a back and forth argument before walking off.
Since that interview, Punk has been relatively quiet, keeping his cards pretty close to his vest in terms of his goals in the UFC. The Straight Edge Superstar was finally able to speak in a safe environment, during his fourth annual interview with Ariel Helwani for MMA Fighting on SBN .
During his first three interviews, Helwani interviewed Punk as a fan, asking various questions about both professional wrestling and MMA. Helwani’s interview style was based on respect for Punk’s opinions, often leading him to ask deeper questions. Ironically the third interview took place just days before his controversial exit from the company in January of 2014 following the Royal Rumble pay per view.
Punk’s most recent interview, which was posted on July 24th, marks the first time that the UFC fighter has had an in-person one on one interview since appearing on Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast in December of 2014. The interview, which lasted about 45 minutes, gave insight to Punk’s mentality towards his current journey to fight in the UFC.
No worries if you didn’t have time to listen to the entire conversation, we are going to tell you the top 15 things that we learned from the interview.
15 He is Happy in Life
If anyone listened to the Art of Wrestling podcast that featured CM Punk, you knew he was a miserable person while working for WWE. Being unhappy with the company is what eventually drove Punk away from wrestling all together. It is because of that, Punk is happy to announce that he is finally happy. He goes on to mention how there is a parallel in his journeys training for wrestling and MMA, and how meeting new people and developing relationships is what he looks forward to most.
14 Former Detractors are Now Friends
It’s no secret that many UFC fighters were not happy about the MMA organization signing a “fake” wrestler like CM Punk. Many fighters called Punk out instantly including Colby Covington, Phil Baroni, Michael Bisping, the original Green Ranger (not kidding), and even a fan at a recent UFC Q&A session.
Punk addressed how he has been treated by fighters, saying that resentment still pops up from time to time, but that he has become friends with some of his biggest detractors. Specifically saying that he has become closest to Ben Askren, who was outspoken about the Punk signing.
13 Intense Training Schedule
Punk is serious about his training. Along with moving to Milwaukee to focus on training full time, Punk trains three times a day, five times a week. Punk mentions his training multiple times throughout the interview, claiming that it is his main focus. He went on to mention later that he isn’t even worried about making money off of his name because he is hyper focused on training.
12 Punk Has Had Amateur Fights
Punk’s trainer Duke Roufus has already put the former WWE Superstar into a few “scrimmages”, that Punk refers to as amateur fights. One fight in particular was scheduled just to highlight Punk’s stand up striking skills, which are developing faster than anything else. It’s interesting to note that even though Punk mentioned his bouts, he openly admits that he would have lost most if not all of them by a judge's decision.
11 His Journey is Being Documented
Apparently Punk has been filming a documentary about his entire journey since signing with the UFC in 2014. The film is being shot by Rory Karpf, who recently directed the ESPN “30 for 30” feature I Hate Christian Laettner.
Filming began the first day that Punk entered the gym to train for his UFC debut, and will ideally conclude the week after his first fight. He didn’t mention how the documentary would be released yet, but we can assume with Karpf’s connections to ESPN that another “30 for 30” could be on it’s way.
10 He Wishes He’d Done it Sooner
Though he mentions that regret is not in his vocabulary, the only thing he would do over is not training for MMA five years earlier. Punk is currently 36 years old, which makes him over five years older than the UFC average age of 29.5. Even though he is entering MMA late in the game, there are precedents of older fighters having success as late as their 40s such as Randy Couture and Mark Coleman.
9 He's Still Not Watching Wrestling
As he reported during his Art of Wrestling interview, Punk is still not watching the product. Although he still hangs out with friends when they are in town, the former Superstar hasn’t watched any wrestling since before his departure from WWE. The only time he did in fact watch WWE was for AJ Lee’s (his wife) matches, which he said he was invested in.
8 Reveals Why AJ Lee Left
While he didn’t mind watching AJ Lee’s segments on Raw, Punk is happy to move on from professional wrestling completely now that she is gone from WWE. Punk revealed that the reason Lee left was because the WWE was making it hard for her to continue to work there. He claimed that it was a “crappy situation”, and “not ideal”, but stated he would be okay with his wife returning to the company if that is what she wanted.
7 Wants to Fight in December
In an ideal world Punk would like to have his first fight at the end of 2015 (December specifically), so that his debut will be a year after his training started. However he revealed that his accountant has advised him to wait until January for tax purposes. Punk says that at the end of the day it is his camp who will make the final decision of when he will debut.
6 He Has a Sweet Deal in UFC
When asked about his first fight being his only fight, Punk responded with a swift “No”, commenting that he has a “sweet deal”. While the specifics of Punk’s contract are unknown, we do know that base pay for an entry level fighter who wins their match is about $16,000. Judging by the fact that CM Punk has name cache, and will probably help to break a pay per view record, we can assume that he is getting more than the base pay.
5 Fighting at 170 lbs
Punk’s weight has fluctuated since he signed to the WWE early in 2005, arriving to the company at 222 pounds. Since his debut, the former Heavyweight Champion has slimmed down, and announced that he will be fighting in the UFC at 170 pounds. At that weight Punk would be fighting in the Middleweight Division, meaning he would be eligible to fight former Middleweight Champions like Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machia, or if he has the skills he could even fight current champion Chris Weidman.
4 Fighting as CM Punk in UFC
After bringing up how UFC fighter’s names were misspelled on the recently released Reebok fight kits, Helwani asked Punk what name he would be fighting under; Phil Brooks or CM Punk.
Punk confirmed that he will indeed go by his professional wrestling moniker of “CM Punk”, adding in that “people are upset about that”. He goes on to compare his situation to the likes of Quentin “Rampage” Jackson, whose nickname is disregarded by MMA purists.
3 Doesn’t Think He Will Headline
While Punk may be a big name to wrestling fans, it seems that his drawing ability won’t move him up on the card (in his opinion). When asked about his place on the card, Punk mentions that it will most likely be on a pay per view. He goes on to say that he thinks that it would be a good idea for him to be on a pay per view with Ronda Rousey and/or Conor McGregor. The idea being that stacking a card like that will potentially break UFC records for buy rates.
2 UFC Contacted and Convinced Him
Punk revealed that UFC President Dana White called him personally and asked if he would be interested in signing with the UFC. Specifically White asked Punk “you ever think about fighting?” then proceed to fly to Chicago to talk to him in person regarding a deal. Punk attributes the expedited nature of the deal to the fact that he had many offers sent to him after parting way from WWE. One potential offer was to star in his own pornographic movie, which Punk shot down immediately.
1 CM Punk is Humble
Timestamp: Entire Interview
As hard as it may be for some people to believe, Punk remained extremely humble during the entirety of the interview. He evaded questions that he knew could be taken out of context, or he would answer them in a way that would give credit to other people. He would not answer any questions about opponents he thought he could beat, rather using the question as an opportunity to bolster his trainer’s abilities. He showed respect for MMA, and conducted himself as a class act who is grateful for his opportunity.
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