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09th Sep 2016

CM Punk was granted fight licence for UFC 203 on some pretty weak grounds

He makes his debut on Saturday.

Patrick McCarry

CM Punk fights Mickey Gall at UFC 203 in Cleveland, Ohio, this weekend. It is a debut 19 months in the making.

Punk (real name Phil Brooks) stepped away from the WWE in 2014 to concentrate on a new passion – mixed martial arts.

Two injuries sustained in training camps delayed his debut but he insists he is fighting fit for his professional MMA bow as part of the undercard for an event headlined by Stipe Miocic defending his UFC heavyweight belt against Alistair Overeem.

In order to fight in an professional MMA bout in Ohio – and to be granted a licence – an individual must have at least five amateur fights on their record. Punk has zero but has been granted a licence regardless.

Brock Lesnar CM Punk

Ohio Athletic Commission executive director Bernie Profato told MMA Junkie that one of the main reasons Punk got waived through was that his case was very similar to WWE-UFC crossover star Brock Lesnar. Lesnar, however, is a former NCAA wrestling champion and had one pro MMA victory, outside of the UFC (in 2007), before he got his shot with the promotion.

Profato also claimed there was a degree of trust that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva had paired up two evenly matched, if somewhat green, fighters. He stated:

“We have confidence in the matchmaking of the UFC. It looks like a competitive fight.”

The other reasons for Punk being allowed on the card include his extensive training at the Roufusport MMA camp in Milwaukee and the relative inexperience of Gall (MMA 2-0, UFC 1-0). The 24-year-old was spotted by Dana White on reality TV show ‘Looking for a Fight’.

Punk has been desperately looking for a fight, a real fight, ever since he was announced on the UFC roster. He will hope to finally prove he belongs in Cleveland this weekend.

He’s certainly confident about it even if the fans aren’t.

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