CM Punk’s head trainer, Duke Roufus, appeared on Monday’s edition of “The MMA Hour” at MMAFighting.com to discuss the progress of Punk’s MMA training.
Roufus, acknowledging that Punk came to the table with a jiu-jitsu background, noted that he is a “natural striker.”
“He’s putting his work in, he shows up every day,” said Roufus. “He has a great attitude. He didn’t become successful in the WWE by accident. It’s because he was a worker and he was a value to the organization, not only in the front as a face, but in who he is. People get behind people that are easy to work with, and he’s so easy to work with. It’s awesome.”
Roufus continued, “That being said, he came in with Gracie jiu-jitsu. The natural thing he’s good at, which makes me happy, is striking. He’s a natural striker. When he did a scrimmage last week, he was pretty comfortable in the fire. He didn’t freak out, he didn’t panic. That’s what I’m looking for in new fighters. It’s not necessarily skill. You can teach skill, but you can’t teach will. Are they going to run and break during a fight, or are they going to get in there and survive the fire? And that’s what I was impressed with. I think in time, all his skills are going to advance, but if he has the mindset and the will, he’s going to do great.”
As far as when Roufus would like to see Punk step into the Octagon for his first fight, the Milwaukee-based trainer explained why he would like to have Punk in the gym for a full year before he sees any real action.
“I would like a year, honestly,” said Roufus. “Because I want him to be the best product for himself, for the organization, and for the industry. I mean, I want him to go out there and put on a great fight and do great things. Again, the value…his fans are amazing. I just think that his fans…his fans are just going to elevate out sport to a whole new level. MMA is big, but we can always get bigger, and I’m a firm believer that high tide raises all ships.”