Dana White is very much a supporter of Punk, not a critic, but the UFC president indicated after the fight that he agreed that the ex-pro wrestler was in over his head. “He probably shouldn’t have his next fight in the UFC,” White said of Punk to Fight Network.
Referring to the fact that another person with success in the WWE but little MMA experience, heavyweight Brock Lesnar, had lost his first UFC match, White said, “Having your first fight in the UFC is tough, and you see it tonight, even if it’s against a guy who’s 2-0. This is a tough place to learn.”
Punk (real name: Phil Brooks) learned that the hard way Saturday, getting submitted by Gall in the first round. Afterwards, Punk indicated that he wanted to continue in MMA, but he himself wasn’t sure it would be in the UFC.
“My initial venture into this was gonna be at the lowest level,” Punk said at the post-fight news conference (via MMA Fighting). “This opportunity just got presented to myself and I would have been a fool to say no. I don’t know what happens from here on out. What if I get cut? I don’t know. I think that’s a possibility. Do I want that to happen? No. But who’s to say where I go from here? I don’t know.
“I definitely want to keep going.”
Some observers speculated that White knew Punk had no business in the UFC, let alone on a main-event card, but signed him anyway to capitalize on the huge following Punk developed in the WWE. The anticipation for his MMA debut only grew as Punk suffered a series of injuries that pushed it back, to the point where he stepped into the octagon 21 months after signing with the company, this after famously quitting pro wrestling (or getting fired from it) earlier in 2014.
In terms of developing his skills, Punk may be best off hitting the amateur circuit, but his notoriety could preclude such a path. White likely knows that if he drops Punk outright, a rival MMA company such as Bellator would quickly snap him up, so it will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds.