Phil 'CM Punk' Brooks will take to the Octagon. | Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/UFC/Getty
After intense speculation, Phil Brooks, better known to the general public as CM Punk, has signed a multi-bout contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to compete inside the Octagon.
The announcement was made during UFC 181 on Saturday. Punk is expected to make his debut sometime in 2015.
Punk, the longest reigning World Wrestling Entertainment champion of the modern era, parted ways with the world’s largest wrestling promotion earlier this year after “losing his passion for the business.”
In an interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Punk explained his decision to enter the world of mixed martial arts.
“This is something that’s been in the back of my mind for a very, very long time. I have a background in Kenpo. I’ve done Brazilian jiu-jitsu off and on for a very, very long time,” Punk said. “But the idea of being able to step into the Octagon and find out what’s inside myself and test myself is an opportunity I was not able to deny myself. I don’t think I would have been able to live with myself if I didn’t give this a shot.”
At 36 years old, Punk is starting his career late, and that’s why he feels it’s imperative to get started in the fighting game sooner rather than later.
“I felt like it was now or never. Maybe about three years ago I re-signed with the WWE, and I tried to give that the old college try. It is now or never for me,” Punk said. “I have a limited window just like all fighters do. And I fully intend to get in there. I’m here for a fight. I’m here to get my ass kicked or kick somebody’s ass.”
While many wrestlers have tried their hand at MMA and slowly faded off into the distance, Punk claims that he is fully committed to his new endeavor.
“This is my new career, 100 percent. I’m going to go full steam ahead, all systems go after today and it’s gonna be fun. I have nothing but respect for everybody here in the UFC – everybody who steps into the Octagon to fight,” Punk said. “ When it’s all said and done -- when I’m finished -- everybody is gonna have to respect me because I have come here to fight.”
Punk’s weight class and future training home remain unclear, but he expects to reveal both decisions in due time.
“That [weight class] is something that’s up in the air – most likely middleweight. I’m gonna do a test weight cut. I’m gonna see how I feel. The option for welterweight might be there, but certainly not light heavyweight,” Punk said. “That’s something you’re gonna have to stay tuned for. I’ve talked to a few people but I really didn’t want to tip my hat as to actually why I was inquiring with certain camps. I didn’t’ want to give it away. Now that this is public, you’ll probably find out very soon where I’m gonna go.”
The move officially puts to rest any speculation that the self-proclaimed “Best in the World” will be returning to the squared circle anytime soon. Instead, Punk joins the ranks of former pro wrestlers turned MMA fighters, most notably, former UFC champion Brock Lesnar.