This past Saturday at UFC 203, CM Punk's MMA debut lasted all of 2 minutes and 14 seconds, as Mickey Gall took him down, pulverized him with ground-and-pound, then tapped him out with a rear-naked choke. Fightmetric had Punk landing 0 significant strikes, just like James Toney when Randy Couture choked him out in 2010. The former WWE star pocketed $500,000 in show money, and will presumably make plenty more through PPV points.
The buildup to Punk's debut received the lion's share of the promotion for UFC 203, including an FS1 documentary mini-series, several televised interviews, his own live-streamed 30-minute sparring session, and an open workout. One fighter who's had enough of the Punk push is heavy-hitting UFC featherweight Sam Sicilia, who makes his return this Saturday against Gabriel Benitez at UFC Fight Night 94 in Hidalgo, Texas. As he recently told the Three Amigos Podcast, Sicilia wants to move on from the CM Punk coverage.
"I really hope we're done with it now," Siciliia said. "We've been pushed on, he's done every commercial in the last couple of weeks, and now he got smashed by another guy who doesn't belong there anyways. But yeah, I just hope we're done with that kind of stuff so we can get to the elite fighters and watching the best fighters, instead of some dork that wanted to try it out.
"If it was up to me, if I was matchmaking, I'd have him fight Hector Lombard or something, so he's lucky. He's lucky he got Mickey Gall, some 2-0 guy. I'm like, 'You want to come in and see what it's really like in the UFC? That's not even what it's really like!' That guy's 2-0! Everybody else that had to get there had to beat up everybody in their local circuit. That guy is 2-0 and still trashed him. I just hope we're done with it, I'm like, 'Okay you guys saw what happened and that is what happened. A skilled guy fights a Punk and there you go.' Hopefully we're done with that kind of stuff. I doubt it, but I hope so."
When asked whether or not fights like Punk vs. Gall hurts the credibility of the UFC, as well as MMA as a whole, Sicilia said that it could be a problem if those bouts continue to happen and are marketed heavily.
"As long as it doesn't keep happening a lot," Sicilia said. "I get that they want to see interesting matchups. They want to see different things happen, and I get that. You don't want the same card all the time, but I hope we don't start leaning that way.
"There's already a weird balance between entertainment and fighting, and actual fights and entertainment in the sport. Then you add in being a big mouth and being a pro athlete in something else, like a 'let's see how this pans out' kind of deal when getting down to it, it's supposed to be the best fighters fighting each other. I don't think it's ruined it, but if it keeps going that way then I can see it getting diluted a little bit."
CM Punk said in the post-fight press conference that he wants to continue fighting, although Dana White has already hinted that if that's the case, it won't be in the UFC. Sicilia is hoping that last Saturday night was both the first and only appearance for Punk inside the Octagon.
"I hope not," said Sicilia. "I mean, how much did he really sell? Was it really that big of a deal? I really don't believe he's that big of a draw. You know [Brock Lesnar] comes in and does these things, but before I knew Brock as a WWE guy and this and that, I remember watching that guy wrestle at Minnesota and being like, 'What a freak of nature.' I got 170ers at my gym that make CM Punk look like an old man. I don't get what the deal is there with the straight edge and the WWE bullshit, with no combat background besides WWE. Apparently Mickey Gall didn't get the script, you know? He just went and took care of him."
Full audio of our interview with Sicilia will be available on Bloody Elbow later this week.