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Why Does MMA Care About CM Punk?


(Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

Did you hear? CM Punk might be headed to MMA.

Don’t worry if you haven’t heard until just now, it’s not as if MMA news outlets have been talking about it at all recently.

So, in case you missed it, here’s what happened:

In an interview with MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani, famed straight edge pro wrestler and former WWE champ CM Punk expressed an interest in taking an MMA fight, as well as thoughts about his doubtful future with the WWE. Punk left the WWE not long after this interview.

To MMA fans and pundits, the urge to connect the dots was too great. Punk departed the WWE shortly after he mentioned MMA. Therefore, he MUST have left the WWE to start fighting.

Cue the insanity.

Rampant speculation about CM Punk, his MMA abilities, his MMA “career” and his potential opponent—which many slated as former Power Ranger Jason David Frank since Frank issued a public challenge to Punk—polluted MMA headlines across the Internet.

You know what’s worse? Legit MMA promotions took this seriously. Bellator “expressed at least preliminary interest” in the weather-beaten 35-year-old professional wrestler. WSOF’s bombastic vice president and matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz, too, boarded the CM Punk hype train.

A whole lot of hype for something we knew for years already. In December 2012, Punk admitted that he’d tangle with the Green Ranger in an MMA fight if the opportunity arose. Earlier that year the former WWE superstar discussed potentially entering the MMA landscape.

Where was the egregious amount of hype then?

MMA didn’t need it quite as much when CM Punk first announced that an MMA fight was on his bucket list. There’s just not a whole lot of interest in the day-to-day affairs of MMA like there was in the past. Look at the numbers for the most recent TUF season—they’re horrific. Fans don’t care about low/mid-level UFC fighters and even some high level UFC fighters. We live in an era where one of the only ways to draw big interest (and big traffic) is to tease Brock Lesnar’s UFC return for the umpteenth time. GSP is gone and Zuffa is apparently going to bury him sooner rather than later. Rousey can always generate buzz, but Hollywood is poaching that cash cow. Talking grand about CM Punk fighting for real is one of the only ways to brighten the drudgery of “Two C-level guys got added to some UFC fight pass card in who cares where. Please donate your click” articles.

And regarding Punk’s actual future in MMA, he doesn’t have one. He’s a 35-year-old ex-pro wrestler with no combat sports experience (he’s trained, yes, but hasn’t competed). At best, he’ll participate in a handful of fights that get lots of hype and then retire from competition after fulfilling yet another goal in life while MMA media members roast him, a novice MMA fighter, for looking like a novice MMA fighter.

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