Former WWE superstar and current UFC fighter CM Punk recently sat down with John Wertheim of Sports Illustrated to talk some wrestling and MMA.
He discussed how the transition has been from being a professional wrestler to competing in the octagon, as well as how hurt he was during his WWE run.
Here are some of the highlights:
SI: What have you learned about MMA?
CMP: I don’t think I’ve learned much that I didn’t already know—apart from technique. It’s not like the first day I got hit in the head and said, ‘This is actually hard.’ I know it was hard and I knew what went into it.
SI: Your head is in a different place. Your body, too, I’m guessing. How banged up do you get wrestling?
CMP: When I stopped wrestling I literally lay in bed for two weeks. In a lot of ways I’m still decompressing for leading that life. I definitely went through a transitional period, probably with some depression mixed in—waking up and not knowing what to do. Normally you’re waking up to catch a plane, in a different zone. But yeah, physically, you take a beating.
SI: Do you feel like you’re competing in WWE?
CMP: It’s definitely a competition. Backstage is so shark-infested and political. It’s almost comical. A lot of people are more interested in the backstage goings-on than what they see on television. A lot of ways it’s more fascinating. It’s a competition for sure.
SI: How do you compare MMA shape to pro wrestling shape?
CMP: I’ve never had a problem cardiovascularly. That’s always been my thing. So in the gym I’ll keep coming and coming. ‘You’ve done enough today.’ But weight-wise, I haven’t been this light since high school. And I’m sure more is coming off. It’s just different. I’m not lifting heavy weights every day anymore. In wrestling it’s being as big as you can. That’s out the window. I have a weight to focus on.
SI: You’re getting used to fighting with gloves?
CMP: The hardest part of the gloves is jiu-jitsu. It changes everything. Grips. Getting able to slide your hands for an underhook. But that’s another tiny little thing to get used to. The other adjustment is just letting my hands go in training.
SI: I’m surprised more wrestlers haven’t tried to make this transition.
CMP: I am, too. I’ve always been surrounded by guys who talked about it. Half of them talk about it; none of them do it. They have their little comfortable safety net doing WWE stuff, I guess. I would much rather give it a shot than just talk about it.
To read the interview in its entirety, click here.