By Michael Battista
Two years of training. Two years of pushed back debuts. Two years of injuries and rumors of poor sparing practices. All led up to “Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 203” on Saturday, Sept. 10, for Phil “CM Punk” Brooks.
The result? He lasted two minutes, before a rear naked choke made Punk tap out after being dominated in the first round by Mickey Gall.
The idea that Punk showed a lot of heart is circulating on social media, by fans of the former World Wrestling Entertainment star, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fans and athletes around the world. Punk took that long walk to the ring in Cleveland as “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour played. Many fighters tried to take that walk, but only he was able to get it.
It doesn’t excuse the fact Punk was dominated right as the bell rung. Gall took him down immediately, and from there, Punk valiantly tried to defend himself in the corner of the Octagon. I remember turning to my friend after a minute and yelling about Punk’s face turning blue and his head being constantly hit in the back. Gall has the training, holds belts in Jiu-jitsu and has already claimed two first-round UFC wins. Punk came into the sport two years ago with no training at all at 35 years old.
It took Punk tapping his own hand against the ground for the fight to end in 2:14. After the defeat, Gall came out and supported Punk. Since Gall’s MMA announcement, he has been criticized for taking too long to train and being too hyped up.
“I see a lot of hate for this guy online… I think we all hate too much,” Gall said in an interview after the match. “Fuck the hate. We all need to love each other.”
When it came time for Punk to comment, he stayed humble and reserved. Since he entered the sport, Punk avoided boasting like his old wrestling persona was so used to doing. He knows he’s only getting started. He can’t talk the talk until he walks the walk.
“In life, you go big or you go home,” Punk said. “I just like to take challenges. This was a hell of a mountain to try and climb, and I didn’t get to the summit today, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up.”
After thanking the fans for the support and talking about his wife at home, Punk left on a motivational message.
“I know there’s a lot of doubters, but listen, life’s about falling down and getting up,” Punk said. “So, if there’s any kid out there that’s told by a parent, or a coach, or a teacher, or somebody they look up to, someone that’s suppose to push them and believe in them, and they’re told ‘no,’ don’t listen to them. Believe in yourself. Sometimes, the outcome isn’t what you desire it to be. But the true failure in life is not trying at all.”
Punk may have lost, but he still left the arena with a chorus of cheers around him.