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Duke Roufus on CM Punk’s biggest strength: ‘He’s got a punch, he can crack’

Duke Roufus revealed what he believes is the best asset in CM Punk’s game.

CM Punk sparring, screengrab

CM Punk is about to make his UFC debut this weekend at UFC 203. But unlike any other fighter, he will be starting from scratch, transitioning from sports entertainment in the WWE, to professional mixed martial arts.

Punk chose to be under the tutelage of Duke Roufus, one of today’s most renowned trainers who is also mentor to the likes of Anthony Pettis, Ben Askren, and Tyron Woodley, to name a few. Over the last year and a half, Roufus incessantly worked on Punk’s game, sharpening all the tools need for him to be UFC-worthy.

Now, with just days away from Punk’s much-awaited maiden Octagon appearance, Roufus revealed what he believes is the best weapon in his fighter’s arsenal.

"He can hit. He’s got a punch. He can crack,” Roufus told MMA Mania. “But, every day he is getting better. Again, he just took down a good wrestler the other day. He’s submitting guys I’m surprised he’s submitting. So, he’s taking turns.”

Roufus adds that while it took a while for Punk to learn how to roll with a punches and get used to being hit, he was able to eventually adjust to it.

“Luckily we have a good system for reaction and we do a lot of drilling to get him used to having guys strike at him. Even Anthony had some commentary today saying, ‘Wow, Punk is doing way better.’ He’s been kind of going easy on Punk and Punk cracked him with a good one and Anthony started to get after him a little bit and Punk weathered the storm very nicely.”

“That being said, part of striking is accepting the fact that you are going to get a little sauce on the apron when you are cooking."

From being heavily criticized upon his UFC entry, Punk is now gaining more respect for stepping up and dedicating himself to the sport, while experiencing a good amount of hurt in the process.

"He's a very dedicated individual. Again, that is what made him get to the top in his former career,” Roufus said. “People who are at the top of any career have those elite work and drive characteristics that most don’t."