Former WWE Champion CM Punk makes his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut today.
Punk fights 2-0 welterweight Mickey Gall in a featured bout on the pay-per-view card of UFC 203: Miocic vs. Overeem.
It’s been a long road to the Octagon for the 37-year-old. Punk signed with the UFC in December 2014, but his interest in MMA began well before that.
“I started wrestling when I was 15; MMA as a whole wasn’t around,” Punk told journalists at the UFC 203 press conference. “If it was a more viable option to make the kind of money you can make now, yeah I probably would have started a lot sooner.
“I was already set on a path, I already had goals to accomplish. Once I accomplished those goals I was able to backtrack a bit and go to that fork in the road and I feel super fortunate that I got to explore both.”
As different as MMA and pro-wrestling are, there are several similarities between the two.
Punk received special dispensation from the Ohio State Athletic Commission for today’s fight thanks to his WWE background. Fighters are usually required to have a winning record in amateur fights before being licensed for professional competition.
Punk’s time as a WWE Superstar has also given him an advantage when it comes to the promotional requirements of a UFC fight.
“This week’s actually been a light week,” he told reporters. “Compared to what I used to do on a daily and weekly basis this is easy so it’s good I was already acclimated to this.”
As well as the comparison between UFC and WWE, the one question on everyone’s lips has been the matter of Punk’s walk-out music. Will he come to the Octagon to the familiar sound of Living Colour’s Cult of Personality?
Ever the salesman, Punk left reporters hanging.
“I can’t tell you, you’re going to have to order the pay-per-view!”