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8 Reasons Why CM Punk's UFC Loss Hurt Him

Following his debut loss at UFC 203, how has it changed the perception of "The Best in the World?"

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It's been a week since we saw CM Punk get decimated in his UFC 203 debut against Mickie Gall. People are mostly split down the middle on their feelings on this – many respect Punk for stepping into an arena where he had no experience, in an arena where he would likely get a very physical beat down. Others felt that his loss was embarrassing and perhaps even a comeuppance for his arrogance heading into the fight.

I've had this on my mind for the past 7 days since seeing the UFC event. I have mixed feelings about Punk; I really like him and think he's probably the coolest guy in wrestling. On the other hand his confidence seemed to stray too far in this particular case, and the stories we've been hearing of him cutting himself off from long-time friends at a moments notice seem to suggest that he maybe a difficult guy to get along with.

So keeping in mind that I am still very much an admirer of Punk and not meaning to mindlessly bash him, I have put together a list of points why I feel his UFC loss ultimately hurt him.

His performance

Those mocking his showing during the fight on social media are met with questions such as; "could you do any better?" or "he lasted in there longer than you would have", both of which are unarguably true. However, I, nor any of the commentators on the internet – like CM Punk – belonged in the Octagon. He may have worked hard for 2 years, but that's nowhere close to being able to topple someone who has dedicated their life to fighting.

Punk steamed out early as soon as the opening buzzer rang, threw a wild punch which met nothing but air and from there was easily taken down. To his credit he managed to avoid a couple of submission attempts, between taking a beating to his head, but ultimately it was very much a "lop-sided affair", as Punk put it after the match. Some pointed out that when CM tapped out he actually struck the mat (like one would submit in pro wrestling), as opposed to tapping on his opponent to indicate his yield. Whether this is just an erroneous, light-hearted jab or if his years of pro wrestling genuinely made his body act on instinct in this fashion, it is unclear.

It was a stark contrast to his WWE persona

Throughout his career CM Punk was a scrappy underdog who always managed to find success. The build-up as documented in the Evolution of CM Punk mini-series cast him as the same kind of underdog, he even eluded to the comparisons himself. And, of course, he had the same dogmatic ultra-confidence that he had always possessed. In the ring he always knew what he was doing; he was fluid and crisp in his movement and performance, after the years of applying his craft to the art.

But the MMA world is not the same as pro wrestling, CM Punk went into the fight as an underdog and left as a beaten man who couldn't even land a successful punch. It was a complete contrast to his slick wrestler days. There was no Cinderella story or gutsy babyface who would keep rallying back. There was simply the cold, crushing inevitability of a decisive defeat.

Comparison with other MMA crossovers

There have been other pro wrestlers who have made the jump over to MMA; Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley and Batista are probably the biggest names over the past few years. This feeds into another point that some have been trying to make; that Brock Lesnar didn't win in his first UFC fight either. While there is no debating this fact, the realistic response would be to point out that while Lesnar didn't win his first fight, he dominated it up until the very end. Not to mention the amateur his credentials and the fact that he is quite frankly a freak of nature.

Batista's delve into the world of MMA was different – he fought a near-retired MMA fight who, with all due respect, was nowhere near in the physical shape Batista was. The fight was largely dominated by the MMA journeyman, Vince Lucero, who even appeared to wave at his family in the crowd in the middle of the fight. Batista would eventually use his superior physical strength to win the fight, but the writing already seemed to be in the wall for the big man and he decided to call it quits after the 1 fight.

CM Punk has no competitive combat history to speak of before his 2 year MMA journey and it would be fair to say that he doesn't possess the freakish genes of the 3 men mentioned previously. In comparison with them his debut is the weakest of them all.

He sacrificed so much for it

Punk is probably one of the most driven and hard-headed pro wrestlers this industry has ever seen. He knows what he wants and will dedicate himself to it. In training for this fight he actually upped sticks and moved closer to the gym he was training at to get in more practice! His entire life for the past 2 years was consumed with this one night in mind, he mentioned how his wife, AJ was incredibly supportive of him.

In addition to training hard, Punk even had back surgery on a nagging injury with this fight in mind. At some point during this time it was also revealed how he fell-out with his long-time friend, Colt Cabana. This may very well have been Punk's last tie to the pro wrestling world to speak of and upon hearing this many pro wrestling fans were surely disheartened to hear this lasting friendship had come to an end.

After he was announced to officially be fighting for UFC, Punk made comments on UFC and Dana White being better than his former employers. He also made a number of disparaging comments about the current WWE roster, truly driving forwards and throwing everything he had into his latest venture without looking back.

His confidence heading into the fight

I touched on CM Punk's confidence earlier on, and I'm sure anyone who has become aware of him will not need to be reminded of this, but he is an immensely confident person. It had always been his strength in the pro wrestling world and probably in life in general up until this point. But his "P.M.A" or "Positive Mental Attitude" as he called it during his documentary, wasn't enough to overcome his physical limits.

Punk was so confident in the build-up top the fight that he even said in one interview that he "knew he was going to win" and that he had "never been more confident about something" in his entire life. Very strong words, which made the ending result even more damaging.

When dealing with his opponent, Mickey Gall, he even went as far as to not shake the hand he had offered during their face-off at the weigh-in, later citing that he "came here to punch people in the face, not shake hands". All of which to serve to leave Punk somewhat red-faced in the aftermath.

No future with WWE or UFC

CM Punk's 2 big passions up until this point have been pro wrestling and MMA. It's no secret that his time with the WWE is almost definitely up, after he walked out on them on bad terms and says that he will never go back. And there's the matter of the ongoing lawsuit. Now following his MMA loss UFC president, Dana White has said that Punk's next fight "probably shouldn't be in the UFC" and commentators have even gone as far to say that he was "delusional" for taking the fight on.

With the bridges of both of the biggest companies in his respective passions burnt, where is there to go for Punk? There is the possibility that Punk could return to his old stomping grounds in ROH or even move further east, as he also discussed the potential of wrestling in New Japan. Punk has said on numerous occasions that he has lost his love for pro wrestling in general, so perhaps all of this should be taken with a grain of salt.

But Punk has his fingers in a number of different pies, he has written graphic novels for Marvel in the past and has had his share of other activities such as presenting shows. But from what we know of his personality that probably won't satiate him for long. With his natural charisma and dark sense of humour he could certainly transition into almost any avenue he put his mind too.

His pay

A couple of days after UFC 203, information was revealed listing the earnings of all of the fighters on the card. CM Punk once again found himself at the centre of attention, this time as a result of the amount of money he was revealed to have pocketed from his 2 minute fight. Punk walked away with $500'000 for his appearance, which many were unhappy about – including those in the MMA industry. Mickey Gall earned $15'000 for his fight against Punk and another $15'000 bonus for his victory. $30'000 for the victor when compared against $500'000 for the loser doesn't seem fair at all.

What makes this more interesting is Punk's comments about his pay during his appearance on Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast shortly after he left the WWE in 2011. When he got around to the point of pay, Punk said;

"I should not get any less than 'Taker, Brock, Triple H, Rock, or John Cena.' But I know I got paid way fucking less than all of those fucking guys who, in my opinion, for lack of a better phrase, couldn't fucking lace my boots that night. 'You need to pay me fucking equal.' I refuse to be... even if one of them got $1 more than me, I was outraged. I should be fucking paid accordingly."

Although something can be said for the idea of star-power versus performance and whether Punk's draw payed for itself in buyrates, it certainly makes for intriguing comments in hindsight.

His vulnerability

Immediately following his loss, Punk stood beside Gall and looked a broken man. Not just physically, he had a far-off look on his face. He was without doubt disappointed in himself. In his post-fight press conference Punk came out with his face patched up to answer questions from the press.

When asked a particular question about how one-sided the fight was, Punk got emotional and almost broke-down. He said that he “knew he was better” than the performance he gave and praised his wife and how supportive she had been during the whole process. This was a big deal. The mask had slipped from Punk, probably for the first time in his career. We had seen him getting emotional before when paying tribute to Chris Benoit following his immediate death, and following his final ROH match. But this seemed different, Punk wasn't driven to tears by the death of a colleague and mentor, nor the sadness of leaving a company he loved on the way to bigger things. Instead, for the first time we saw him getting upset because, in his eyes, he had failed.

It wasn't an easy sight to watch for long-time Punk fans. He had always believed in his ability and backed it up with success, yet here we watched him a beaten and bruised and seemingly broken man. CM Punk's future isn't clear, we have no idea what he is going to do next, but I am hopeful and certain for Punk's future. As much as I'd like to see him back in the WWE or wrestling in general, it would just be good to see Punk along with AJ in a good place. It should be noted that Punk also allegedly turned down a WrestleMania match against Triple H simply because he had lost the love for pro wrestling. Hopefully we'll see him find his love for something once more, preferably one which doesn't involve him getting beaten up.

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