The CM Punk experiment in the UFC is as good as dead, as part-time fighter Mike Jackson pummeled him for the better part of three rounds on Saturday at UFC 225.
There are no more certainties in fighting than there are in life. Yet Saturday night in his home town of Chicago, when CM Punk made the walk to the octagon, one thing was certain: Living Colour’s Cult of Personality would be blaring as the crowd cheered for their local hero. And if the script ended there, fade to black, it might have been success story. Punk overcame the odds, the naysayers, and made it to his second UFC fight.
That it came against the unheralded Mike ‘The Truth’ Jackson, more a journalist than fighter if we’re being real about it, wasn’t the point. The point was that Punk (Phil Brooks if you prefer, as some including Jackson clearly do) didn’t go crawling back to the land of pro wrasslin’ with his tail between his legs after the drubbing he took in his first fight. He didn’t take the ample bounty the WWE would have thrown his way to head home. If dedication counts for anything, then Punk was a winner just by showing up.
And no, he wasn’t taking a roster spot from another fighter. With hundreds of fighters in the UFC, Punk was just an extra spot that wouldn’t have been there were it not for his impressive fan base.
Hopefully, you can forgive a two-hundred word intro to a fight recap that doesn’t include an ounce of action. Because Punk vs. Jackson (i.e. former wrestling guy vs. lottery winner, or 0-1 vs. 0-1) wasn’t about the fight. It was about the spectacle. The UFC paid as much for Punk walking to the octagon as they did for him fighting in it, frankly.
But yes, there was a fight between ex-WWE star CM Punk and Mike Jackson on Saturday at UFC 225, in Punk’s native Chicago. Just not a very good one.
With the glove touch to start Punk vs. Jackson, a lot of questions were about to be answered. A leg kick by Punk landed, but he was clipped. He answered back, and drove Jackson into the fence. The crowd chanted, over and over: CM Punk. But it was Jackson turning the pair, and separating. Punk led with his jab, and fired a leg kick. Punk took some more damage, but again drove Jackson into the cage.
If nothing else, Punk had learned how to jab, and tie up an opponent. Still, if you were expecting a dazzling display of mixed martial arts, you had come to the wrong place. Punk came close to landing a takedown, with Jackson working hard to fight it off. He stayed standing, and reversed. Again, Mike Jackson created separation. Punk flashed a front kick. Then, in the final minute or so, a takedown from Punk! Jackson would power back up and go to the body in the final seconds, but CM Punk had completed a full round in the UFC. Bloodied, tired, but not done. Not yet.
— UFC Aus/New Zealand (@UFC_AUSNZ) June 10, 2018
Round two saw a very tired CM Punk on the outside. He worked for another takedown, to no avail. Began getting lit up, and it looked like it might be over. Yet he grabbed on to Jackson and basically pulled guard. Instead of looking for a submission, however, Punk instead tried to punch from the bottom. Bloodied more, exhausted, he tried in vain for a triangle, but it was Jackson landing blow after blow — though Jackson looked exhausted as well. The lesson here: Punk wasn’t listening to his coaches (telling him not to punch from the bottom, to little effect). He was also anything but a pro.
The crowd was tiring of the CM Punk experiment at that point. Even in Punk country, in his native Chicago. Punk’s nose was a flattened mess. A shiner already forming under his eye. Jackson, in comparison, looked calm. The third round saw a tired Punk struggle for takedowns. Stuffed on one, Jackson wisely let the ref stand Punk up. The rest of the fight? A mess that saw CM Punk battered by a sloppy Jackson. Somehow, Punk finished on top, and he’d gone the distance — but lost the war.
Stick a fork in it — the CM Punk experiment in the UFC is done.
Mike Jackson def. CM Punk by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)