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Shoot Henry (9/11/16): Punk's Pursuit of Happiness




On Sunday morning, one of the most-debated MMA debuts will finally happen. CM Punk, he of WWE fame, will enter the Octagon for UFC 203.

Many, of course, will doubt why a 37-year old former pro wrestler with hardly any martial arts background was signed and given a spot on the main card of a UFC pay-per-view. Truth be told, that should be the only real concern people should have. After all, he's no Brock Lesnar with an extensive wrestling pedigree, which is widely considered as a solid background for MMA. He's also taking his pro debut at the age where many fighters have already had matches in the double digits. Why was he even given a main card slot in the first place? There is a plethora of people more deserving and more tenured than Punk.

"No sir, I did not just play touch butt in the WWE."

In the end, this is all business for the UFC. Being in the business of fighting means being in the business of entertainment. You put on fights that people want to see for myriad reasons. It's no secret people have legitimate doubts about CM Punk's ability. And they're banking on it in a case of "does he really have a fighting chance?"

Win or lose, the UFC gets people to tune in. They've done it before.

Fun fact: only one person in this pic has not held a World Championship belt

However, all Punk really wants is a chance to fight. The circumstances of his fight are a result of what he has accomplished before his MMA career. Yes, he definitely leapt over some—actually the majority—of fighters in the roster for a spot on the main card. But that's the company's side of booking. They're trying to make money, and Punk is simply riding on what they decide on. It's something that he wants to do and they're making it possible for him.


"...I feel amazing, you know...This is a lot of fun...I've seen the process. I've heard stories...I've seen nightmare weight cuts...I'm just trying to enjoy this entire week. Even the bad stuff."
CM Punk, after his open workout


With just under two years of MMA training under the illustrious Roufusport team, CM Punk already considers the chance to make his debut a victory in itself.

Of course, the mindset of actually winning is there, and he does want the "W," but finally fulfilling his dream to step foot into the cage is something that makes him, simply put, happy.

Punk knows the risks and obstacles he's getting himself into. He's no world-beater right now, nor do we really expect him to be, but he manages to take everything in with a genuine smile on his face. To get to train without worrying about flights and media tours day in, day out is a blessing that he truly appreciates when he made the decision to fight.



"Traveling sucks. I just got burnt out on it...No matter how frustrated, beat up, bad day I had in the gym, I can always go home, see my wife, see my dog. and sleep in my own bed. Take a shower in my own shower...not have to rifle through a bag to find something that's relatively clean to wear. It's a world of difference. This is for me, man. Sleeping in my own bed every night."



So here we are with a man getting the opportunity to make his goal a reality. He's taking the right steps, biding his time and laying down the right foundation. He's got an amazing set of coaches and training partners with current and former champions in different MMA organizations, He's got a supportive wife who shares the same drive as him. He's got the support of the UFC. He's less than half a day away from fulfilling a journey that ironically, started in the same building where he quit his former career.

Whatever tomorrow holds for CM Punk is a mystery. But what we can be sure of is that in the end, each punch he throws or takes, each takedown he gives or receives, and each match he wins or loses, all of this, comes from him a decision that he readily accepts to make every day.

He's happy, and that's all that matters to him.

CM Punk (0-0) is set to take on Mickey Gall (2-0) in the main card of UFC 203. The card will be headlined by a UFC heavyweight title defense by Stipe Miocic (c) against number one contender. Alistair Overeem.

*****

George Pastor writes our weekly #WTFWednesday column. He got into judo because it was the closest sport available where it was perfectly fine to slam someone without getting expelled.


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