Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Randy Couture: CM Punk Shouldn’t Have Jumped In At The Highest Level

Former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture has given his take on why CM Punk’s transition to mixed martial arts failed.

After achieving stardom in professional wrestling under the WWE banner, Punk announced that he’d signed a multi-fight contract with the UFC in December 2014 following his release from the Vince McMahon-led company earlier in the year.

The Chicago native’s much-anticipated debut at UFC 203 lasted little over two minutes. Against Mickey Gall, who recently recorded a dominant victory at UFC Vegas 32, Punk was immediately taken down after throwing a wild first strike, beaten on the ground, and submitted via a rear-naked choke in the opening frame.

The 42-year-old’s sophomore appearance came nearly two years later at UFC 225. In the main card opener, Punk faced Mike Jackson. Despite going the full 15-minute distance, the former WWE Champion was thoroughly beaten and succumbed to three 30-26 scorecards. The result was overturned to a no contest this year after Jackson tested positive for marijuana.

Mike Jackson CM Punk
(via Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)

Having hung up his MMA gloves after two unsuccessful cracks at the sport, many have discussed what went wrong with Punk’s stint in the UFC. According to Randy Couture, he simply bit off more than he could chew.

During an interaction with The Wrestling Inc., the UFC legend suggested that Punk shouldn’t have jumped into the deep end of MMA so soon into his career. According to Couture, the 42-year-old tried to compete at the top immediately, similar to how boxer James Toney did when he faced Couture himself at UFC 118.

“The fans can be brutal. That’s just a fact. You’re only as good as your last fight, and that’s how you distinguish your real friends and true people that are in your circle. Fans want to see winners, and they’re very critical. That’s more of an American thing, honestly, than anything else. They’re not so much that way in Japan and some of the other marketplaces. He jumped right in at the highest level, and he kind of tried to pull a James Toney and jump in at the highest level… And you got to give James Toney his credit for his boxing credentials but some of that does not translate to MMA.” (h/t The SportsRush)

Couture did, however, admit that Punk prepared well ahead of his entry into the UFC. But despite that, the three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion believes the wrestling star didn’t build enough of a foundation to be able to compete at the highest level of MMA.

“I think CM did a good job of trying to train, trying to learn as much as he could, but he jumped into fights that were that were, frankly, a little over his head,” added Couture. “I think he could have given himself more time to technically train and get some foundation, a solid foundation for fighting under his belt before he jumped into some of those bigger fights. He may have had a little more success.”

After an unsuccessful venture into a completely different realm of combat sport, Punk recently returned to professional wrestling. The CFFC commentator made his first appearance for the rising AEW promotion at The First Dance event on Rampage on August 20.

Do you agree with Randy Couture? Could CM Punk have succeeded in MMA if he’d entered the sport more steadily?

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