A vast majority of fight fans were caught off guard when UFC president Dana White proclaimed his desire to give former professional wrestler CM Punk one more shot at mixed martial arts (MMA) glory.
This came as a surprise considering Punk fell completely flat in his Octagon debut against Mickey Gall back at UFC 203. But with UFC 225 set to take place on June 9 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside United Center in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois, the promotion would be foolish not to cash in one more time on the wrestler-turned-fighter.
Luckily, UFC may not be sticking its head out as far as it did the first time around. UFC 225 will commence nearly two years after Punk’s initial Octagon appearance back in 2016, meaning the 39-year-old has had ample time to mature as a fighter in anticipation for his long-awaited return.
And if you’re one of those people who believed Punk had no means of improving after his lackluster performance opposite Gall at UFC 203, Punk’s training partner, UFC flyweight contender Sergio Pettis, recently helped shed some light on the former wrestler’s MMA evolution.
“CM Punk is evolving a lot man, he’s definitely training hard, this guy’s there every day,” Pettis said during a recent episode of BJ Penn Radio. “It’s a tough camp, you train once in the beginning of the day, at night we have a two-hour workout with pad sessions on top of bag work on top of cardio, and CM Punk’s at every single practice. I see a lot of improvement, his skill, his understanding of the sport is a lot different.
“I think he’s getting more comfortable in understanding positions now, instead of thinking he’s about to react,” Pettis continued. “It’s cool to see his transformation, I think he’s going to do great, if he has a fight coming up or whatever, you know, for him just to kind of compete, he’s looking well. Yeah, for sure man he’s a hard-working athlete and like I said, he’s getting a better understanding of the movements.”
While it’s only natural for a fighter to pump up a fellow training partner, Pettis did acknowledge that Punk knew little about fighting just a few years ago. But with more time under his belt alongside prominent UFC fighters like Sergio and big brother Anthony Pettis, Punk is undergoing the necessary progression.
“He went from not knowing anything to knowing things, and now understanding the what, why, when and where and the how, and it it’s cool to see,” said Pettis. “He’s definitely transformed.”
Assuming Punk remains healthy in the coming months he should be able to find a way onto UFC 225’s card in Chicago. It has yet to be seen if the promotion is willing to put Punk back on a PPV main card, but this may be UFC’s last chance to reap the financial benefits of showcasing the former WWE superstar on the grand stage.