Almost two years since on from the day CM Punk was officially announced as the latest star to join the UFC roster, the former professional wrestler is just days away from making his pro MMA debut at UFC 203, which heads to Cleveland, Ohio next week.
And Punk, just like the fans and media alike, is now just anxious to get this over and done with. “This will be misconstrued as a quote if you’re just reading it, but I very much have a ‘I can’t wait till it’s over feeling,’” said Punk.
“I want to get it over with because I’m ready – I feel ready. Being here every day for five hours a day has made me feel that way. It feels nice, like a relief. There’s a calm – I’m excited, a little bit of nervous energy. But it’s all positive.”
Having spent his time preparing for the cage training full-time at Roufusport in Milwaukee, one of the premier MMA camps in the world, Punk feels as though the preparation has been adequate enough to get his hand raised in victory at the night of the fight.
“I don’t know what the expectations are,” Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, said. “I know what my expectations are. I know what my team and my coach – what they expect out of me. I think it depends on what corner of the media or the Internet you look at to see what the expectations are.
“People expect me to get knocked out. People expect me to get starched in 30 seconds. The people who see me work here every day expect me to win.”
For anyone who has been or still is a pro wrestling fan, if you’re expecting the larger than life character, with pyrotechnics and entertaining one liners to come from CM Punk in the build up to the fight with Mickey Gall then you’ll be tuning into the wrong show. Former UFC lightweight champion and training partner Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis also shared his thoughts on Punk’s mind set coming into this fight.
“None of the (pro) wrestling, none of the talking, none of that stuff is going to help him in the Octagon,” said Pettis. “Hype is good, cameras are good – but once that door closes, it’s all about what he did the last two years training with us.
“He’s gotten a lot better. When he came in here, he wasn’t ready for a UFC fight. He got with the right people. Tyron Woodley, the 170lb champ, trains with these guys right here. These guys are some beasts, and he’s out here holding his own.”
For Punk it’s not just a matter of putting on a performance and making the last two years of gruelling training count, it’s getting a win that matters most for the soon to be 38-year-old.
“My expectations are to win – go out there, whether it goes three rounds, whether it goes three seconds, that’s what I expect,” adds Punk. “I expect to show up in the best shape of my life, happiest I’ve ever been, and happy looking in the mirror before the fight knowing: ‘Job well done.’”
CM Punk vs. Mickey Gall is part of the main card offering of UFC 203 which takes place in Cleveland on Saturday 10th September. UFC heavyweight champion and local hero Stipe Miocic headlines the card against Dutch destroyer Alistair Overeem. Check local listings for starts times.