With it looking highly unlikely that CM Punk will return to WWE anytime soon and it being well known that he is a big fan of MMA, the rumour mill has already gone into overdrive that his leave of absence from pro wrestling will allow him the opportunity to try his hand at fighting for real.
Punk's Brazilian jiu-jitsu trainer Rener Gracie has already let it be known that he thinks his student could be a big success in MMA if he devoted himself to his training full time.
Dana White when asked about the prospects of Punk ever competing in UFC gave an answer that suggests he wouldn't completely disregard the idea out of hand.
Even the former Power Ranger Jason David Frank, who's had several amateur and professional MMA fights in the past, has got on the bandwagon to challenge him to a celebrity scrap.
Of course, such an outrageous gimmick fight could never see the light of day in UFC, but it might not be out of the question for the struggling Bellator promotion that is desperate for mainstream media attention and ratings.
Indeed, according to Dave Meltzer in his Feb. 3rd subscriber only Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Bellator is already making overtures for Punk to fight for the company:
"Bellator has already expressed at least preliminary interest in him. He would be free and clear of any WWE contractual obligations in July....
I get the impression a part of him would like to do it the same way Batista did it as a bucket list thing. With Batista, it seemed on the surface to be a real bad risk, but in the end, he did it and wasn’t hurt at all. With Punk, on the surface, it would seem the same thing. A theoretical big risk....
The key is he’s 35 and his body is beaten up from years of pro wrestling. While he does train in fighting disciplines, he doesn’t have the competition background at a high level in any fighting sport. That is very old to start out in unless you want to compete at the beginners level. It’s also hard to say if he goes against someone legit and loses, how it would affect him for a WWE return, either with the fans, or with management. And I’m not sure exactly what kind of challenge he’d be up for."
Basically, Punk is in the driving seat here. If he wants to fight professionally, then it'll happen. If he just wants to take a complete break from the spotlight and the rigours of performing, then it won't. As always, we'll see what transpires and keep you informed about it as the news breaks, Cagesiders.