CM Punk will make his professional MMA debut at UFC 203 with no prior fight experience as he steps into the Octagon as a 37-year-old rookie.
Now, those facts could have prevented Punk from fighting in Ohio due to regulations from the state athletic commission in regards to licensing for inexperienced fighters as well as competitors who are asking to fight in the state past 35 years of age.
Ohio Athletic Commission executive director Bernie Profato explained that thanks to Punk’s history as a professional wrestler as well as his training at a top gym like Roufusport in Milwaukee that they would grant him a license and waive the prior restrictions that would stop him from fighting in the state.
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On Wednesday, Punk addressed his fight license while also wondering why people are so interested in whether or not he should be allowed to face Mickey Gall this weekend.
"I don’t know anything about that. I also don’t really care," Punk said. "To me, it’s out of my hands. I don’t know why people care. If you’re not me and you’re not the guy fighting me, why the hell are you so invested?”
Are we tarnishing the sport where people try to break each other's faces?
— CM Punk
The rules that were waived to allow Punk to fight at UFC 203 include a requirement that competitors have at least five amateur bouts with a winning record before turning professional. A second requirement says that fighters over 35 must have competed in at least three events to apply for a license as a professional in Ohio.
Punk isn’t worried about his past experience heading into this fight, and he also scoffs at the idea that questions about his license were brought up out of concern over his health.
At 37, Punk is getting a very late start to his MMA career, not to mention the litany of injuries he suffered during his years as a professional wrestler with WWE.
Still, Punk says the stories about his license were brought up to cause trouble and it had nothing to do with anybody protecting him from getting hurt.
"They’re worried about my well-being? No, they’re not," Punk said. "They’re hack journalists who (expletive) just want to stir up a bunch of (expletive) for no reason cause they don’t get invited to this."
Regardless of the dust up over his fight license, Punk is set to make his debut on Saturday night after first signing with the UFC at the close of 2014.
Now, less than two years later, Punk will finally step into the Octagon to prove what he can do as a professional mixed martial artist.