Former WWE superstar Phil Brooks, better known to the world as CM Punk, is reportedly being lined up for his Octagon return at UFC 225 in Chicago on June 9.
Punk’s return would be a welcomed boost for the UFC, which is looking for a draw for its show in the Windy City. The former WWE champion’s pulling power with fans in his hometown will be just what the doctor ordered for the UFC brass.
To his credit, Punk has treated his foray into MMA with the respect it deserves. He never planned on making his appearance a one-and-done situation, and he’s been a regular on the mats at the Roufusport gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, furthering the jiu jitsu skills he’s been training for a few years. He’s also worked to add some serviceable striking to his game with the gym’s owner, Duke Roufus, a former kickboxing world champion.
There’s only one problem: Punk looked so bad in his Octagon debut that UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard are having to think outside the box to find a suitable opponent for the 39-year-old.
Punk was schooled by New Jersey prospect Mickey Gall, who submitted the former sports entertainment favorite in just 134 seconds in Sept. 2016, leaving fans wondering if Punk would ever return to the Octagon again.
The common-sense pick for an opponent is Mike “The Truth” Jackson, an MMA photographer and occasional fighter from Houston, Texas. Jackson lost even more emphatically to Gall than Punk did, getting submitted in just 45 seconds at UFC Fight Night 82.
Jackson is no fool, and he knows that his best chance of another UFC payday is to face Punk. Jackson even produced a brilliant 1980s pro wrestling-style promo calling out the former WWE star.
And UFC bosses know they can’t seriously consider pitching the former pro wrestler with another seasoned MMA fighter.
With rumors about the potential matchup beginning to gain momentum, Bovada has released moneyline odds on the potential clash, with Punk a +195 underdog.
Jackson, who has a 4-0 (4 KO/TKO) pro boxing record against fledgling opposition, is the early favorite, with odds of -250.
It’s a fight that will cause precisely no ripples in the UFC’s world-class welterweight division, but it’s sure to draw a few eyeballs.
And with Jackson doing his bit to act as a suitable adversary for Punk, it’ll be one that could offer some betting value closer to the bout, particularly if the UFC puts its promotional weight behind Punk, as they did before his debut two years ago.
[Main image: John David Mercer – USA TODAY Sports]