CM Punk's background in sports entertainment would suggest that he’d be heavily engaged in the promotional aspect of his Octagon debut.
Instead, he and UFC 203 (live odds) opponent Mickey Gall have been downright cordial heading into their Sept. 10 matchup at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Without a choreographed outcome, Punk sees no need for manufactured animosity.
“People either love me or hate me already,” he said during a conference call on Thursday. “I’m not trying to talk anybody into the building on this one. The allure is just the fact that it’s happening. The story writes itself. It’s not a fabricated thing where I need to create some drama between Mickey and me. We’re gonna fight. That’s the beauty of it.
“It doesn’t need to be a weird verbal pissing contest. While it is entertainment and it is a s--t talk business, I don’t see it happening this time.”
Gall, who submitted Mike Jackson in 45 seconds in his promotional debut in February to earn the right to fight Punk, echoed his opponent’s sentiments regarding pre-fight hype.
“Bottom line is we’re gonna fight. I think a lot of people are very excited for this, from everything I’m seeing,” Gall said. “We’re not gonna put on and pretend to hate each other. I think there is an appropriate amount of buildup. I think a lot of people are excited, and I know we both are.”
Punk has been a lightning rod for criticism ever since signing with the UFC, but the Chicago native has done his best to block out any negativity.
“There’s people who want to see me win and people who want to see me fail. You’ve got to middle of the road it,” he said. “You can’t get too far up your own ass, believing all the positive stuff people say and conversely, you can’t believe all the negative stuff. The people who want to see me lose...if I can take a page out of my old job: it doesn’t matter if they’re booing or cheering as long as they’re invested in the fight.”
While Punk hasn’t engaged in a war of words with Gall, he does expect to perform when they square off in the Octagon. That, however, isn’t trash talk. It’s the confidence most any fighter needs to succeed. Just don’t expect him to make a Conor McGregor-esque prognostication.
“I see my hand getting raised,” Punk said. “I’m not really one for making predictions. I’m not sure if Conor’s hat would fit my head. I’m not sure if he’s got a large one or a small one. I’m not trying to wear Conor’s hat, I’m not trying to wear anybody else’s hat. I’m just trying to be me, do my thing. I definitely see myself winning. If I had to pick I’d say TKO.”