Well, this is a bizarre story, which may be worth taking with a big pinch of salt.
What we know for sure is that CM Punk is currently suffering from mental burnout and is plagued with a really messed up right knee. He's believed to have several injuries in that limb including a strained ACL and another torn ligament. He won't be on WWE television for several weeks and his in ring return date is up in the air at the moment.
Punk has spent his time off traveling to several recent UFC events with his girlfriend Amy "Lita" Dumas starting with The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen Finale on April 13th, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and last night's UFC on Fox 7 special at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA. He's also expected to be in attendance for next Saturday's UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen pay-per-view at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
I'm sure WWE higher ups are absolutely thrilled at seeing Punk attend three UFC shows on consecutive weekends at the exact same time he's phoned off sick from all WWE appearances. But he's a big enough star that he can get away with such temerity.
Apparently, not everyone was enamored by his celebrity presence, as he somehow managed to rub up UFC Hall Of Famer Mark Coleman the wrong way.
Coleman is an MMA legend, having won two UFC tournaments in 1996, defeated Dan "The Beast" Severn at UFC 12 on Feb. 7th, 1997 to become the first UFC Heavyweight Champion and beat Akira Shoji, Kazuyuki Fujita and Igor Vovchanchyn all on the same night to win the Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals. In the last nine years of his career, he struggled as an aging underdog, losing six of his last ten fights, but all to big names like Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko Filipovic, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mauricio Rua and Randy Couture.
It's worth noting that Coleman has also participated in several pro wrestling matches in Japan over the years for a number of promotions like Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Wrestle-1, Hustle and the Inoki Genome Federation (IGF).
As Dave Meltzer explained on his latest subscriber only Wrestling Observer Radio show this morning, it was UFC management's decision to treat Punk as a bigger star on their telecast than Coleman that ticked him off:
"By the way there was a story, not at this show, but last Saturday. I didn't know this story until tonight. But Mark Coleman was furious and actually almost started a fight with CM Punk.... They didn't have a fight, but he was definitely wanting to fight the guy, and it was the idea that Mark Coleman was furious that on last Saturday's show they showed CM Punk in the audience, but they did not show Mark Coleman.... Seriously, I know that's CM Punk's fault (*sarcasm*), but he wanted to go after him.... It was serious enough that several people were talking about it and they thought I knew about it which I didn't, but yeah he went after CM Punk.... [Coleman] wanted to show that [Punk] was a fake wrestler not a real guy, now that Mark's hip [is healed and] he's feeling good, he hasn't felt good in years, but I hope he doesn't fight again, I hope he isn't feeling that good."
I'm sure Coleman was genuinely upset at UFC's onscreen snub, but directing that anger at Punk doesn't seem like a legitimate reaction to me.
Coleman wouldn't be the first UFC star to eye Brock Lesnar's fat, limited dates, WWE contract and want a piece of that pie (see Roy Nelson, for example). With him feeling much healthier, Coleman could have exploited the real situation to go into business for himself and try to angle his way into a lucrative WWE program with CM Punk. Unlike Nelson, Coleman knows how to work and could easily be carried to a watchable match by someone as extremely gifted as Punk, who recently had the best match at WrestleMania 29 with The Undertaker, someone who is as old and broken down as Coleman is.
What do you think, Cagesiders? Do you agree with my analysis of the near scrap? Would you be interested in seeing CM Punk vs. Mark Coleman in a WWE ring, once Punk is back in action? It would certainly make for something different in a conservatively ran WWE.