LAS VEGAS, NV – CM Punk, who made his MMA debut with UFC this past Saturday at UFC 203, has been assigned an opponent for his next fight, said UFC President Dana White: himself.
The first ever CM Punk vs CM Punk fight takes place at UFC 210 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Punk lost his first fight in devastating fashion to relative newcomer Mickey Gall, and at first White said Punk’s next fight probably wouldn’t be in UFC. But when the PPV numbers came in higher than expected, White changed his mind.
“Punk can f*ckin’ draw money, man,” said White from his office on Thursday afternoon. “If we let him go now, Bellator will sign him and do a big rating. F*ck that. WE’RE keeping him, but we’re gonna put him in a fight he’s guaranteed to win. The dude can’t really fight yet, so we had to find him an opponent who also can’t fight that well. It only made sense to have him fight himself.”
The fight represents a unique opportunity for Punk, and for the company it’s a win-win situation. He sees the fight as a chance to redeem himself for what he called a disappointing performance against Gall.
“Nobody knows me better than I do,” said Punk in a conference call following the announcement. “If I lose, I still win. It’s brilliant. I’m really motivated and am gonna train harder than ever.”
The Nevada State Athletic Commission unanimously approved the fight, releasing a statement that strongly endorsed the match: “Punk will finally face someone with a skill level tantamount to his own, which lowers his injury risk. Gall was an experienced fighter, and we only approved that fight because we knew it would draw money. Deep down, we knew he was a lamb being led to slaughter. But this time, we can collect a big payday AND sleep well at night knowing Punk will be okay.”
White said that a win by Punk would improve his current 0-1 record to 1-2, whereas a loss would still improve his record to 1-2. A draw appears unlikely, though possible, but would still improve his record to 0-1-2 if that were the case.
Still, regardless of the outcome, it’s better than the 0-2 record he would almost surely achieve if he were to fight a more experienced opponent.
Punk plans to have an intense staredown with himself at the weigh-ins. He also plans to shoot an angle to build interest for the show, similar to the bottle-throwing incident between the Diaz brothers and Conor McGregor that led to a record buyrate in August.
“I might throw a bottle of piss at myself, for all you know,” said Punk. “I might throw a sucker punch and push myself into the backdrop like Cormier and Jones did. Hell, I might even pull a no-show and really get people talking. It’s ME, so I can do whatever I want!”
Punk’s wife, who wrestled as AJ Lee for World Wrestling Entertainment, voiced her excitement over the news too.
“It’s a great idea,” wrote Lee on her Twitter account. “On days I’m not home, Punk has sex with himself, so he’d have no problem fighting himself too.”
UFC plans to film another documentary on the fight, this time focusing on Punk’s intense hatred for himself.
“In my last year or so with WWE, I hated myself,” said Punk. “Hated myself for doing it just for the money, just to ride out my contract. I wanna kick my own ass for that, and now I’ll get that chance.”
Punk plans on bringing himself into his gym as his own sparring partner, so he can train with someone who mimics his own fighting style.
White said Steve Mazzagatti will referee the fight. “I figure that’s one fight even he can’t f*ck up,” he told reporters. Judges will be instructed to score the fight as they normally would, but that their scores must be identical if it goes the distance (meaning each judge must score the fight as 10-10, 9-9, or 8-8). But few expect the fight to get out of the first round anyway.
When asked if Punk would receive his usual $500,000 guarantee, or if he’d receive double the amount since he’s fighting twice, White said they’re thinking about it.
“I’m not really sure how we’ll handle that,” he said after pausing for a few seconds. “I can see both sides of the argument. We’ll probably push for 500k, but that’s still a bargain and he drew so much the first time, that if he (Punk) pushes for a million, we might grant it. Perhaps 750k is a happy medium (laughs),” he joked.
The fight was booked by Joe Silva, who recently resigned and is finishing up with UFC imminently. Silva said he will push for a $500,000 payday for Punk, and nothing more.
“All the fighters got really upset when they heard Punk was making half a million for the fight with Gall,” Silva noted. “I’d imagine they’d be even more furious if he made twice that for fighting himself. If it’s the last thing I do with UFC, I’m gonna push for that.”
The plan is for Punk to do two separate ring entrances, using his familiar “Cult of Personality” theme song by Living Colour. Ring announcer Bruce Buffer also plans to announce him twice.
“The only question is which guy fans will cheer,” asked Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. “Most likely the reaction will be 50/50, with dueling ‘Let’s Go Punk’ and ‘Let’s Go Punk’ chants.”