CM Punk confirms UFC debut to come at UFC 203 in Cleveland against Mickey Gall

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Phil “CM Punk” Brooks’ UFC debut is finally scheduled, and he will indeed face Mickey Gall at UFC 203 in Cleveland.

Punk himself confirmed the debut on the latest “UFC Unfiltered” podcast with Matt Serra and Jim Norton, noting that he’s been cleared by doctors after a February back injury.

“The instant I got cleared, I got on the horn with Dana [White] and we nailed everything out. I will be debuting September 10 in Cleveland,” Punk said. “I’m super-excited. I’m happy to have a date, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I can probably say I’m healthy and strong again. It’s nice to be healthy.”

Assuring that he’s going to make it to Sept. 10 and into the cage, Punk still addressed the string of injuries he’s had since his signing was announced while saying he’s always believed he’d actually making to the cage.

“If I didn’t [shift to UFC], I probably would still be walking around with a herniated disc if I didn’t have the UFC doctors spot it and take care of it,” Punk said. “The worry of [making it to the cage] definitely crept into my head. I tried to stay positive. The back surgery was a f***ing bum-out. And then there’s the months of rehabs where I couldn’t do anything… I never thought that it was over. I never thought that I was never going to make it to a fight.”

UFC 203 airs live on pay-per-view from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, headlined by the UFC Heavyweight Championship bout between Cleveland’s own Stipe Miocic and his challenger Alistair Overeem.

Penick’s Analysis: Obviously there are still nearly three months to go and something could go wrong again in training, but now there’s an end goal in sight. He got that herniated disc taken care of, he finally has a date and location, and he’s going to step into the Octagon. Win or lose, it remains a gutsy endeavor for a man with little in the way of athletic history. He was great in the pro wrestling world, but it’s hard to see him stepping into an MMA fight for the first time at 37-years-old and having much success. There is an interesting tie-in to his WWE run in this debut, though, bringing the entire situation full circle. Punk’s exit from the WWE came after a backstage blow up with Vince McMahon and Paul “Triple H” Levesque in January of 2014 at the site of Monday Night Raw after the Royal Rumble. The host site that night just happened to be The Q. Now he returns to that same arena to finally get into the Octagon.

(Transcriptions via James Caldwell at

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