Former WWE champion CM Punk took one of the weirdest routes to the Octagon since Joe Son dragged a cross. Punk, real name Phil Brooks, had long been a fan of the UFC, and dabbled in grappling with the Gracies in Torrance.
He decided he wanted to try MMA. The UFC then offered him a fight, and he took it. Their thinking was presumably that rival Bellator MMA was furiously searching for a way to break into PPV, and the former professional wrestling star would fit the need perfectly, with suitable opponent from the sometimes colorful Bellator roster.
The problem was the Brooks determined he wanted to fight and then started training. That is not how the order of things goes in professional sports. The 18 months he put in was interrupted by surgery, and the skills he showed in losing to Mickey Gall at UFC 203 on September 10, were perhaps those of the one-stripe white belt which he is.
However, UFC middleweight champion Tyron Woodley appeared recently on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, and said that Brooks is back in training.
“For sure, he was in the gym the other day,” said Woodley. “I was there. I saw his car outside, and I came in, I was going to say what’s up to him. And then I guess he was in the shower when I was changing, so I missed him, but yeah he’s back in the gym training.”
The fight with Gall was over as soon as it started, when Brooks rushed his brown belt opponent and was immediately taken to the ground. There he gamely withstood a number of punches before tapping to a choke at 2:14 of the first.
“If you were fighting Punk you would assume that, him getting into this sport, his striking would be the last thing he caught up on,” said Woodley. “So we expected the guy to [try to] out-strike him, so we were going to try and bum-rush him and … I’m not going to tell the whole game plan, we might have to use it again. But in general we tried to close the gap quickly and get hands on him, and the takedown just surprised me and everybody else.
“We all knew there was a chance he could potentially lose, but I would have liked him to just show a little something, because he has worked so damn hard.”
“I flew myself out there, my own hotel room, my own car. I was walking up and down the street and fans were like, you’re here just walking around by yourself? I’m like yeah, I’m here, my dude’s fighting.”
“He had so many people who wanted to give him inside stuff. He had his three coaches, and he’s got everybody that wanted to give him their tidbits on what he should do. With that said, I didn’t want to do that. But he did come to me and say hey, how should I be feeling now, what should I eat, and that’s when I gave him the information.”
Despite the outcome, Woodley would emphatically like to see Brooks fight again.
“For sure,” said the champ. “I want to see him fight the dude that that Belal Muhammad just fight, the dude with the red mohawk [Augusto Montano]. I think he’s a dude from a TUF show, a TUF show guy. I think Mickey Gall was pretty good. That was a big cup of coffee for him.”