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Roufus on 'natural striker' CM Punk debut timeline: 'I would like a year'

Duke Roufus has nothing but praise for CM Punk's development as a fighter, but would like more time to make him "the best product for himself, for the organization, and for the industry."

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The development of CM Punk continues. He came to the UFC as an almost entirely untutored former pro-wrestler in early December of 2014. After some careful decision making, as to where to begin his MMA training, Punk landed at Roufusport. Home to lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, ONE FC champion Ben Askren, as well as a whole host of rising and developed top tier talent, he headed off to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to make ready for his UFC debut. And it sounds like things have been going swimmingly since.

Recently, photos of Punk's first MMA sparring session surfaced, for a more nuanced report on how it went, Duke Roufus spoke to MMA Fighting:

"That being said, he came in with Gracie jiu-jitsu. The natural thing he's good at, which makes me happy, is striking. He's a natural striker. When he did a scrimmage last week, he was pretty comfortable in the fire. He didn't freak out, he didn't panic. That's what I'm looking for in new fighters. It's not necessarily skill. You can teach skill, but you can't teach will. Are they going to run and break during a fight, or are they going to get in there and survive the fire? And that's what I was impressed with. I think in time, all his skills are going to advance, but if he has the mindset and the will, he's going to do great."

While Roufus was very bullish on CM Punk's development, saying "I will not let Punk go out and make a mockery of himself or our sport," and that he loved Punk's willingness to run "towards the fire, instead of running away from it," he did make it clear that he'd like more time to put some polish on the MMA rookie's technical skills:

"I would like a year, honestly," he said. "Because I want him to be the best product for himself, for the organization, and for the industry. I mean, I want him to go out there and put on a great fight and do great things. Again, the value...his fans are amazing. I just think that his fans...his fans are just going to elevate out sport to a whole new level. MMA is big, but we can always get bigger, and I'm a firm believer that high tide raises all ships."

With no debut date or opponent in sight, as of yet, Roufus may get his wish, of more time to develop Punk into a fighter skilled enough to put some talent behind his marquee billing. Striking is one of the more difficult long term skill sets to pick up in MMA, so it will be interesting to see how much his "natural" abilities help him develop over the next few months.