Editor's Note: As part of our #PunkWeek coverage leading up to former WWE champion CM Punk's UFC/MMA debut Saturday at UFC 203, we enlisted someone that has been in the cage before to outline how the underdog can win in his debut.
I know how CM Punk can win. I know his strategy, because I am basically CM Punk.
Given our similar histories, here's how we both stack up physically and how I would fight Gall if it was my first professional fight.
Tale Of The Tape
- Phil "CM Punk" Brooks: 37, 6'2", 185, 0-0 record, BJJ rank unknown (but at least a blue)
- Dan "PeachMachine" Velten: 38, 6'1", 177.5, 5-2 amateur MMA record, BJJ rank purple belt
While our age is nearly the same, our size is remarkably similar as well. I've fought every match at welterweight (170), and the most I've ever needed to cut to get there was about 15 pounds. Punk would have the slight size edge on me as he does on the 5'11" welterweight-sized Gall, but I don't think it will mean much.
Punk has never had an official "anything real" match, but don’t buy that “untested” nonsense. He rolls hard in BJJ practice. He spars hard doing stand up. He's been hit. He's been a fan of MMA since the beginning, done private lessons with Rener Gracie, and has spent time learning striking, even while in the world of professional wrestling. He's a rookie in the cage, but not to the sport.
- We have both suffered a number of concussions. I once was able to recall 14. That was some time ago, but I’ll go with that. Punk once said the number 20, but who knows? We’ve both had some brain damage; that we can agree upon.
- In BJJ, I have a purple belt while Punk had previously refused to be belted (although he was seen getting a stripe on his white belt on an episode of his FS1 documentary). That said, I have no idea how good he actually is in the sport of BJJ. Lucky for him, that doesn’t matter much in the cage. I’m nowhere near an amazing grappler as anyone who saw the Grappling Battle of the Empire knows that.
However, I was usually able to make my BJJ work for me in the cage. I've talked to people who have rolled (sparred) with him and I'm fairly certain he's better than he's letting on.
- We have both had various injuries. We've both broken bones, noses, and knees. We both have permanent back issues. A life as a professional wrestler, takes its toll. Not all of that tape is for show.
- Punk has performed in front of thousands of fans. I certainly have not done that. Still, it’s a lot different when that man across the cage from you really wants to hurt you. I’ve never done media or pressers. In fact, the closest I’ve been to fame is when I won a free Metallica T-shirt for calling into a radio station.
How I Would Fight Mickey Gall
Gall has one key advantage: his youth. Gall is only 22. When Punk was 22 not drinking at parties and getting down to Nelly's "Hot in Herre", Gall was in the first grade sounding out Cuh-Aht. Cuhat. Cat. YAY!
In the fight game, youth is king. Think about how much fight you had when you were 22. When Punk was around 22, he was known for having a bit of a temper. You may recall an incident at a TNA PPV from Nashville at the White Trash Cafe involving Punk and Teddy Hart.
We all had a lot more gusto at that age which equates to energy production. Gall is going to start fast and put the pressure on Punk. If Punk lets that happen by going straight in or straight back, he’ll be on his butt before he even knows what happened. Punk can’t let himself get dragged into a fight by just swinging wildly.
Here is what I expect from Punk:
He will try and stand for about 30 seconds. I’m sure he’ll want to show off his hands before getting it to the ground, which is probably where he thinks he can win. I agree. He’s got the most experience on the ground, and we know Gall is willing to go there. I do expect Gall to take him down because he probably thinks he can get another fast submission which he absolutely should go for. Unfortunately, that plays into Punk’s one potential strength: the ground.
Punk needs to get ready to pull guard. He’s too slow to evade for very long so he needs to try and catch Gall with hands on his way in for a takedown and then grab a hold and drag it to the mat. Punk’s first objective should be to make it a ground fight because that's how he can win: submission.
The only area where youth can hurt you may be on the ground. Often, we see guys get too aggressive trying to force a submission and they lose position. Gall is susceptible to this. I expect a grappling battle, and I expect Punk to catch him.
Punk wouldn’t be fighting if he didn’t think he could win which makes him dangerous. Punk needs to play defense on his feet, get it to the ground, be patient and work. I’m literally betting he’s better than we all expect, or else, he wouldn’t have signed the contract.
Check out WrestlingObserver.com daily this week as we have more content dedicated to CM Punk's debut at UFC 203.