Earlier this week, CM Punk revealed that back surgery would delay his highly-anticipated Octagon debut, which was expected to take place at either UFC 199 or UFC 200.
The timing of the announcement was of particular interest, considering that just a few days prior Punk had finally received an opponent for his debut date when Mickey Gall submitted Mike Jackson in the opening stanza at UFC Fight Night “Hendricks vs. Thompson.” When interviewed backstage, Punk appeared to be quite excited to have a name and face attached to his first promotional foray, but as it turned out, the Chicago native had already been advised to have surgery before Gall distinguished himself.
Punk’s revelation cast doubt as to whether he would ever compete inside the Octagon. There are those, like Roufusport training partner Emmanuel Sanchez, who remain confident that the former sports entertainment superstar will follow through on his plan to be a UFC fighter.
“Absolutely,” said Sanchez, who faces Daniel Pineda at Bellator 149 on Feb. 19. “...It’s a slight surgery that he’s got to go through. The guy is always at the gym and he’s always working hard and he’s always trying to evolve -- in gi class and our striking classes and our pro practices. He’s gonna make it happen. He’s gonna go out there and put on a damn good show.”
Punk underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc that was a lingering injury from his professional wrestling career. His recovery period from the procedure is expected to be four to six weeks, but that is apparently enough to keep him from fighting this summer on one of the promotion’s major pay-per-view events. It is currently unknown when the 37-year-old will make his first UFC appearance.
“You’ve got to give the guy some credit. Yeah, he came from pro wrestling, but that takes a toll on your body too,” Sanchez said. “You’ve got to imagine being on the road, getting slammed -- even though it’s all choreographed. It takes a toll on your body. He’s done his fair share of partying too; he’s told us some stories. In your young wonder years it takes a toll on your body now. He’s paying for it now a little bit.”