CM Punk won his court case against WWE doctor Chris Amann but lost his fight at UFC 225. However, there’s a bigger battle that Punk won.
Vindication is a powerful thing and for CM Punk he got that last week in the forms of the legal battle he’d been fighting since 2014 and his in ring battle against Mike Jackson at UFC 225. While it would be easy to mock Punk for the very one sided loss to Jackson, there’s a lot more to celebrate than there is to commiserate.
When CM Punk spoke on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast about his experiences with WWE, his claims were pretty shocking to the point of almost sounding far fetched. From a misdiagnosed abscess which could have killed him, to not being allowed time off for injuries through being sent his termination notice on his wedding day, WWE did not come off well at all but some wondered if there was a little exaggeration in his claims. A significant percentage of wrestling fans had turned on Punk following his abrupt departure from WWE where he walked out on the Raw following 2014’s Royal Rumble but the podcast managed to win hearts and minds as fans realised how much he had to endure. When Dr Amann sued Punk and Cabana it undoubtedly put a huge strain on both men and at one point allegedly ended their friendship of more than 20 years. Being sued for $4 million plus punitive damages is a pretty life changing event and would have probably forced Punk to return to pro wrestling if he’d lost.
What no one was really prepared for was that WWE managed to look even worse during the court case. When discussing CM Punk’s concussion during the Royal Rumble match it was revealed that the show’s producers had been given the information about Punk’s injury and then made a call for Kane to put him through the announcer’s table. It also started to appear that the delays in getting to court may have been deliberate in order to deliberately schedule the trial right before Punk’s return to the Octagon, with Punk commenting, “If you know them and if you worked there, it makes a lot of sense. But I don’t know.” when asked by MMAFighting.com. When the trial ended in Punk’s favour he’d finally had closure of four years of legal wrangling and emerged with his head held high even though it’s now on record that he once sh*t himself during a match on Smackdown.
After that Punk would go in interviews to say that he is done with wrestling and that it’s in his past, a position that the victory in court must have cemented. While his signing appearance the day before All In has raised speculation that he may appear at the event in some capacity but Punk shrugged these rumours off, stating that the signing event allows him to meet his very loyal hometown fans. He also noted that his crippling social anxiety may prevent him from watching the event from the stands. It really wouldn’t be a surprise to see Punk do something at the event though as it’s in his hometown and it’s a way to interact with a crowd in a safe environment, as he acknowledged that a lot of people make fun of his first match in UFC and how he lost fairly quickly.
Equally, as CM Punk appeared in the octagon at UFC 225, the Chicago crowd welcomed punk with chanting his name loudly – something you’d expect from a WWE crowd, not a UFC one. Let’s be honest, Punk looked bad here and very much like he didn’t really know what he was doing – something exacerbated by his opponent Mike Jackson blatantly showboating for the crowd. While this could easily be perceived as a negative, the crowd still supported Punk and the vast majority of comments from other UFC fighters on Twitter were of universal support for Punk’s efforts and how he refused to give up even though he was getting badly beaten at times. After the event Punk was taken to hospital to have a CT scan on his face as he’d taken such punishment during the bout, something that concreted the opinion that he’d shown a whole lot of toughness, if not skill.
In the post match press conference UFC President Dana White echoed the praise of others and seemed to confirm that CM Punk won’t be fighting again for UFC, stating, “No, it should be a wrap. The guy’s 39 years old. We gave him two shots, and he had a lot of heart tonight, and I think he should call it a wrap.”. White then went on to lambaste Jackson’s showboating, stating Jackson would not be returning to the UFC. After being cleared by the hospital Punk took to Twitter to joke about being 1-1 in the week; his good natured tweet keeping him in the good books of UFC fans who are very keen on respect and guys not bitching about losses.
CM Punk isn’t used to failure, love him or hate him he has succeeded at everything he has turned his hand to, with the exception being MMA. While Punk’s first UFC loss to Micky Gall was seen as embarrassing, especially as Punk’s face looked like a hamburger after the short bout, this second loss has won him a lot of respect from an audience who now see him as a tough guy who genuinely wants to be a part of the sport, rather than being a celebrity making a quick buck. Punk lost a battle but won a war in winning the respect of fans and his peers.
So what’s next for Punk? The easy road would be wrestling appearances but apart from a possible appearance at All In to officially say goodbye to his hometown fans, Punk is likely to stick the course with MMA but at an amateur level. No matter what choice he makes about his future CM Punk has put his demons to sleep and can finally hold his head high.