Skip to main content

7 Days In Punk: CM Punk's unforgettable ride to UFC controversy

CM Punk


A lot can happen in a week and for Phil "CM Punk" Brooks, the seven-day stretch from Tuesday, September 6th through Monday, September 12th was one that he, and both the MMA and pro wrestling worlds, will never forget.

What's happened since Punk got dusted by Mickey Gall has been something to behold. While he had some critics prior to his MMA debut, he really had critics afterward as media, fighters, and fans came down on him hard for a variety of reasons. On the flip side, he unsurprisingly had plenty of backers, also for a variety of reasons. The online clash has been ugly, pointed, and a lot like the U.S. presidential race at times. (Here's hoping Punk didn't have pneumonia Saturday.)

Regardless of where you stand, you can probably agree that this whole situation has been historic -- not for the athletic part of it, but for the overall story. Much like when boxer James Toney stepped into the cage against Randy Couture at UFC 118, there's something to this that had people talking and will continue to do for quite sometime.

Here's a reminder of exactly what that seven-day stretch was all about:

Tuesday, September 6th:

Punk arrived in Cleveland, and began with the process every fighter has to go through starting Fight Week: check-ins, promotional photos and videos, signing posters, and even a Facebook Live chat for UFC. The first two episodes of Embedded dropped, mainly focused on Punk's preparation at home.

But the big news of the day were the questions raised about how Punk got his fight license, and how Ohio essentially coined "the Lesnar rule" as justification for waiving their usual requirements. At the end of the day, it was just more voices in the choir of anti-Punk sentiment as we all knew there was no way he wasn't going to get a license. It's money, it's the fight game, it's common (well, uncommon) sense.

We published a column by amateur fighter and daily update contributor Dan Velten on how he would coach Punk on how to beat Gall, given his own experience and size similarities to Punk. Additionally, we posted 'The Day In Punk' recapping the license news, Embedded videos, etc.

Wednesday, September 7th:

Punk took part in the open workouts which typically are pretty boring and just an opportunity for fans to pull out their iPhones and media to get some post-workout soundbites. Punk did about two minutes of grappling/rolling before calling it good, so we didn't learn too much...if we really expected to at all.

He talked to the media for about 10 minutes and addressed the license issue from Tuesday, attributing any controversy to 'hack journalists' who were unable to get access to cover the event. Also, his demeanor continued to be downright upbeat -- amazing considering his reputation.

Episode 3 of Embedded dropped as did one of my favorite pieces this site ran all week: a look at other pro wrestlers who have fought professionally, done up by Paul Fontaine.

Here's the recap of the Day In Punk (Wednesday).

Thursday, September 8th:

Punk got to sit in on his first pre-event press conference, flanked by Miocic, Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, and Travis Browne. Honestly, this was a snoozer from all angles with Punk answering many of the same questions he had been asked 50 times before.

More media pieces began to come out like's Justin Barrasso's sit-down with Punk in which he didn't completely discount the idea of returning to Japan to wrestle for NJPW if the situation was right. Our Jeremy Peeples, who isn't a huge MMA fan, put a column out about how he thought Punk's bravery already made him a winner.

But the two content pieces that got the most attention were Mick Foley's video shoutout, and Punk's sitdown interview with Ariel Helwani. In that talk, he discussed issues cutting weight, and lightly discussed WWE with some headline-grabbing quotes about the current state of the locker room, and how the lawsuit has been affecting him mentally and financially.

Here's the Day In Punk recap.

Friday, September 9th:

Punk successfully made weight (170) in the morning, and appeared confident while not physically looking too bad. We all knew that perhaps the weight cut issue talk from earlier in the week mayyyyybe was a bit of a swerve. He is a former pro wrestler, you know.

Later in the day, Punk made some headlines by not shaking Gall's hand after the two squared off at the ceremonial weigh-ins, leading to he said/he said about what was actually being said between them at the time. Punk showed emotion to the crowd, and genuinely looked like he was relishing in the moment. 

Media-wise, the fourth Embedded came out as did Punk's post for the Players Tribune where he talked about being happy in this latest pursuit. All that was left between him and fighting was time.

Also, yours truly released a podcast with The Fight Network's John Pollock on Punk's big week...and the rest of the card as well.

Here's the daily recap.

Saturday, September 10th:

Fight day arrived. Columnist Kyle Johnson said that Punk's "pipe bomb" promo set the table for his UFC debut, while columnist Mike DellaCamera wanted to make it known that Punk shouldn't return to WWE. Yours truly looked back at the 21 month timeline that brought us to this moment. The final episode of Embedded came out, showing Punk in the room where he told WWE he was done.

Then, the fight happened. Yeesh. Despite the one-sided defeat and mangled ear, Punk said he wanted to come back and that he wasn't done.

In the post-fight presser, he got emotional in talking about the loss, his wife's comments to him when he came to the back, and his thoughts on everything that was UFC 203. He did what he set out to do, but the story was far from being over.

Sunday, September 11th:

I wish I could say "And everyone rested/watched football" but the discussion about Punk's performance was just beginning. There was the positive. There was the negative. More positive. More negative. Our Zach Dominello (another non-MMA watcher) kept on the positive, while our Tom Lawlor, a UFC light heavyweight, wasn't as nice. (That was just the beginning.)

And then, Monday happened.

Monday, September 12:

Talk about a pipe bomb. 

The revelation that Punk took home $500,000 (at least) sent Twitter and the Internet into a craze. It turned the smoldering ashes into a raging inferno, only amplifying the sentiment we started to hear on Sunday.

What was interesting is so many voices who hadn't come out strong against the Punk fight prior to Saturday suddenly became anti-Punk, vociferously arguing that this fight should have never happened and mainly pointing at Punk as the problem while somewhat pointing the finger that the organization that signed him. 

The big debate that will continue to rage on until we know what's next is whether Punk's next fight should be in UFC. The aforementioned Pollock brought up an interesting idea: do an Invicta-style deal where you still retain Punk's rights but have him fight in one of your UFC-friendly Fight Pass affiliated organizations instead of releasing him to the open arms of Bellator.

So after all that, here we are. We saw something resembling a fight, ugly on the inside of the cage and now very ugly outside it.