The timing of CM Punk's eagerly anticipated UFC debut continues to be up in the air after a planned summer fight with Mickey Gall was postponed due to the former professional wrestler undergoing back surgery for a herniated disc last month.
Punk maintained that he would fight before the end of the year despite this injury setback in a recent interview with MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani. That remains to be seen, as Punk's age and background would seem to make further delays possible, but he clearly has his heart set on stepping foot inside the Octagon for combat before the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve. Whether that is a wise decision from a health and wellbeing standpoint is another matter.
Speaking of Wellness, Punk used his media platform to take another shot at Vince McMahon when Helwani asked him how UFC's brass reacted to the news of his injury, claiming he was relieved to finally have a boss who wants him healthy:
"[They handled it] wonderfully, in my opinion. I was in with Dana [White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta], and we were talking, and Dr. Sanders just came up and he goes, ‘alright, here it is.' He laid it all on the table for us. Of course, Dana lets out this big sigh, and he's like, ‘ugh, we can't get a break.' So immediately I go into, ‘well, maybe there's a shot I can get? Maybe I can do cortisone? Whatever.' And Lorenzo and Dana stop me, and they went, ‘no, no, no, it is what it is. We just want you to get fixed and get healthy. We have shows every month, don't worry about it.'
It's just, the timing sucked. I'm literally about to walk out and do this thing [at UFC Fight Night 82]. And they were great. It's hard not to compare and contrast to where I used to work before. It was just a relief to finally have a boss who was like, ‘no, no, just get fixed, we want you 100-percent, we want you to be healthy,' not interested in throwing a band-aid on a bullet wound just to parade me out in front of people. So it was a relief, and it felt nice."
It has to be asked whether this is a fair comparison. From Punk's perspective, I'm sure he believes it to be true, although as an outside celebrity he gets carte blanche treatment that no other fighter at his level of experience would ever be given by UFC. One wonders, however, if Dana and Lorenzo would have been quite so understanding if the injury had happened days before the fight was set to take place rather than several months beforehand, or whether they would have taken Punk's offer to do whatever it took to compete as scheduled? It would be naïve to believe that Dana White has never leant on a fighter to work hurt, like Punk alleges Vince McMahon did with him in the past, when a late pull out by a headliner can cost the UFC millions of dollars in pay-per-view revenue. Personally, I don't see a great deal of difference in how McMahon and White treats their talent.
As I alluded to earlier, it's also questionable whether Dana and Lorenzo would even book Punk to fight in the UFC if they genuinely had his best interests in mind, rather than the money he can make for their company by turning WWE fans into UFC pay-per-view purchasers. They signed someone with no athletic background in college whatsoever and only had some limited experience of kempo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a hobby at the age of 36, who had quit his former career as a WWE wrestler in a concussed haze. In Punk's infamous tell-all podcast with his friend Colt Cabana just one week before UFC rolled out the red carpet for him as their latest acquisition, Cabana indicated that Punk had suffered 12 or 13 concussions during his professional wrestling career. Does Punk really need more concussions added to the mix?
It should be noted that Dr. Chris Amann, WWE's Senior Ringside Physician, is suing Punk over allegedly defamatory remarks he made in the aforementioned Cabana podcast. The claims that got Punk into hot water were that "Doc" leant on him to work a European tour with a concussion, erroneously prescribed him so many Z-Paks that he once shit his pants on an episode of Smackdown, and misdiagnosed a MRSA infection as a fatty deposit, which he refused on multiple occasions to cut out. The lawsuit is still being hashed out in the court system with Punk arguing in his defence that Amman improperly colluded with WWE on the lawsuit as revenge for the public embarrassment his honest comments caused the company. WWE has categorically denied the allegation that they directed Amann to sue Punk and claimed that he had made the decision to file the lawsuit independently of WWE in order to protect his professional reputation.