CM Punk has now suffered the second consecutive loss of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
The former WWE Champion made his MMA debut two years ago when he suffered a first round submission loss to Mickey Gall in Cleveland. This past weekend (Sat. June 9, 2018) he made his Octagon return against Mike Jackson on the opening fight of the UFC 225 pay-per-view (PPV) in Chicago.
Punk would go all three rounds with Jackson and wound up losing a lopsided unanimous decision. It remains unclear if Punk plans on fighting in MMA again, but if he does, it’s unlikely it’s for the UFC.
Roufusport jiu-jitsu coach Daniel Wanderley recently spoke to MMA Fighting about Punk’s MMA career. Wanderley explained that the plan was to get Jackson to the ground early and get on top so Punk could try and implement his jiu-jitsu game on the former Houston Golden Gloves winner:
“Mike Jackson has a boxing background, so our strategy was to avoid standing with him,” Wanderley said. “CM Punk comes from the wrestling world. It’s fake wrestling with WWE, but he’s more of a grappler than a striker. Even though he has worked on his striking for a long time, it takes years, especially if you’re starting at his age. Our plan was to go for takedowns early,” he continued.
“We knew [Jackson] didn’t have much of a ground game, so he could scramble and submit or work on his ground and pound on top. His jiu-jitsu is better when he’s on top. He tried a triangle when he was off his back, but he was already hurt and it was hard to finish.
“Not that he did something wrong, but I think that the adrenaline of his [WWE] court case, that battle during fight week didn’t help. We were confident that he would win, but unfortunately we couldn’t. We’re proud of him because he went there and fought hard. At one point we thought Mike would end the fight, but we saw his heart there.”
Wanderley then explained that he feels Punk carried a lot of pressure into his fight with Jackson. Pressure brought on him by, one, his previous loss to Mickey Gall two years ago, and two, his desire to pick up the win for his team who has been working with him for the past four years:
“I think he put that pressure over himself after he lost to Mickey Gall, someone more skilled and technical than both [CM Punk and Jackson],” Wanderley said. “A few weeks before the fight he had this court case with WWE and I said ‘Punk, we need you to get there and put the gameplan to work.
“You need to stay focused and be aggressive because that guy wants to hurt you. You have to go there and finish him.’ He said ‘I’ll do it for you guys,’ and I said ‘no, you have to do it for yourself. We’re there for you, but you have to do it for yourself.’ I texted him after the fight to check if he was okay,” he continued, “because he went to the hospital, and he said he was fine but heartbroken because he really wanted to win this one for us because we worked hard with him for years.
“I take that pressure off of him. It was his first time fighting in real fights, it’s hard to get in there and do what you trained in the gym every day.”
As for Punk’s fighting future, Wanderley hopes that he focuses more on jiu-jitsu competition rather than training for actual MMA fights:
“I hope he continues training and maybe enters a jiu-jitsu competition, something he has always talked about,” Wanderley said. “I hope he comes back with a good mindset and keeps training jiu-jitsu because that’s good for his life. I think that’s a perfect sport for him.
“I think he should continue training kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, but training for a [MMA] fight is too hard. I wish he would go on to compete in jiu-jitsu because you face opponents at your age, your skill level, your belt rank, so you don’t fight someone more experienced than you. That’s my recommendation for him.”
What are your thoughts on Wanderley’s comments regarding Punk’s MMA future? Let us know in the comments!