WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST 9/7: Final episode of Evolution of Punk, Josh Barnett, Andrei Arlovski, Junior dos Santos

By Michael Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor


The fourth and final installment of “The Evolution of Punk,” a documentary series chronicling the journey of CM Punk towards his first UFC fight aired Tuesday night.

The episode saw Punk at cageside to watch his eventual opponent, Mickey Gall, tear through his appointed victim like a buzzsaw, setting up an in cage encounter between Punk and Gall where Punk appeared timid, aloof, and some might say intimidated. At the very least, Punk lacked the conviction his WWE persona had.

We learned shortly after that Pnk was injured and the fight was going to be delayed. He likely knew this at the time of the Gall fight, but like any good pro-wrestler, Punk knew to shoot the angle first, and announce the delay second.

Much of the rest of the episode detailed Punk’s training at Roufusport in Milwaukee. Punk has certainly evolved from the completely unseasoned, untested, aspiring mixed martial artist into a man who looks to be in the best shape he may have ever been in and he’ll be fighting on Saturday whether he’s ready or not.

Saturday Night Live founder Lorne Michaels is famous for saying “We don’t go on because we’re ready, we go on because it’s 11:30.” For Punk, his 11:30 comes this Saturday, Live from Cleveland.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: I have no idea what to expect from Punk on Saturday, but I personally can’t wait. I don’t expect him to win and the way he’s been talking about just showing up being a victory, I don’t think he expects to win either. If this series was an attempt to turn Punk into a sympathetic character who fight fans should respect, I’m not sure if it was successful. I think that this show served to reinforce whatever preconceived notions you had about Punk fighting. If you thought this was a joke and he doesn’t deserve to be there, you probably still think that. If you think this is a Rocky story and Punk is living his dream and will shut the haters up on Saturday, this show will convince you of that as well.

This show is also a wildcard from a business perspective. Ticket sales have been OK, but there are still good seats available a few days before the show. Punk’s ability to affect pay-per-view sales is about as unknown as his fighting ability. Without Punk, this is not a marquee show and would likely be one of the least bought shows of the year. How this show does on pay-per-view will have a greater influence on how Punk is positioned for his second fight (assuming there is one) than his actual in-cage performance will.


-After his win last weekend, Josh Barnett has moved up to #7 in the official UFC Heavyweight rankings. Andrei Arlovski drops to #9.

-Al Iaquinta vs. Thiago Alves in a lightweight bout is being targeted for UFC 205 in New York City according to MMA Fighting.

-The Ultimate Fighter airs tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern on FS1. Team Benavidez fighter Hiromasa Ogikubo will meet Nkazimulo Zulu of Team Cejudo.

-On yesterday’s edition of “The MMA Hour,” Junior Dos Santo told Ariel Helwani he is looking to fight again at UFC 206 in Toronto, but did not name a potential opponent.

-Bellator welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov will defend against Douglas Lima on Nov. 10 from Tel Aviv, Israel. (REPORT)


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