Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) oddballs C.M. Punk and Mike Jackson will throw down this Saturday (June 9, 2018) at UFC 225 inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
I really have no idea what to say about this fight.
Punk is an extremely credentialed wrestler of the WWE-variety, which is much better than being a collegiate or world wrestler financially, but leaves one with fewer combat sports skills. Nevertheless, Punk wanted to test himself inside the cage, Dana White sensed there was money to be made, and the former superstar was strangled inside a round in his Octagon debut. Jackson wound up on the wrong side of the same choke to the same opponent seven months prior. It was assumed that was the end of “The Truth” inside the Octagon, but there’s still some money left in Punk’s name, so both men will receive a second chance.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: None
Key Losses: Mickey Gall (UFC 203)
Keys to Victory: I have an extremely small amount of footage to base any of this. Last time out, Punk did what a majority of amateur fighters do in their first amateur fight: Shuffle forward into a sloppy power punch. If Mickey Gall had sucked, perhaps it would have landed, but UFC shot itself in the foot by matching up Punk with an actual prospect.
The result of said right hand was an easy double leg and domination on the mat.
This time around, Punk has to relax. He’s been working out with high-level coaches and training partners for a few years — Punk has to have learned something during that time. It may not be enough to defeat Jackson, but Punk gives himself a better chance if he remains his version of technical and doesn’t panic forward.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is weird, and Jackson does not seem to be a world-beater himself. If Punk lets the fight play out a bit, he may find himself having some kind of an advantage: Be it takedowns, jamming Jackson into the fence and holding him there, or simple conditioning. Any of those can be built into a win should Punk discover an edge.
If it turns out no such advantage exists, fuck it, go back to the sloppy overhand and hope for the best.
Key Wins: None
Key Losses: Mickey Gall (UFC Fight Night 82)
Keys to Victory: Jackson entered UFC as a potential foe for Punk’s first fight, but again, Gall surprised everyone by actually being pretty solid and starching Jackson. In the build up to the fight, Jackson’s Muay Thai and boxing experience gave him the reputation of a striker, but the Brazilian jiu-jitsu guy did drop him before choking him.
In the absence of good analysis, he’s a nice GIF of Jackson’s Muay Thai.
Friends in Texas that I trust tell me Jackson has many years around the local gyms and is a pretty solid striker. Assuming they are to be believed, it seems to me Jackson’s best bet is to take out Punk early. Punk is still without any experience in an actual striking exchange outside of sparring, and even if he’s not Anderson Silva, Jackson’s actual ring time gives him a big advantage in the pocket.
Taking a shot and continuing to fight well is a trait that takes years and fights to build. If Jackson walks straight to Punk and sticks a hard jab on his nose, there’s a real chance whatever game plan Punk has will evaporate immediately. That’s not a knock on Punk’s toughness — he took a decent beating from Gall before succumbing to the choke — but it’s the reality of inexperience.
After stinging him, Jackson should have the experience to know if he can aim for the kill immediately, which would prevent any such questions of wrestling or conditioning from coming into play.
Bottom Line: This fight has zero relevance beyond the fighters themselves.
For Punk, this journey has been all about the experience. Credit to him, making the walk is difficult no matter the venue. If he manages to win, it makes this strange series of events a bit more positive. It also sets up Punk for another low-level fight if he wants it, although UFC should be careful not to repeat the Gall mistake.
Meanwhile, a second loss ends the experiment.
As for Jackson, his goal here is to prove that he’s a much better fighter than Punk and has some legitimate skill. The stakes are similar: win and stick around, lose and sayonara. If Jackson does win though, don’t expect UFC to match him up all that nicely next time out.
At UFC 225, CM Punk and Mike Jackson will open the main card. Whose hand is raised following the absurdity?