Former WWE star CM Punk pounded in UFC debut

Posted at 11:45 PM, Sep 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-11 00:30:37-04
CLEVELAND (AP) -- CM Punk could have used a folding chair or a tag-team partner.
Out of pro wrestling's scripted ring, his first trip into the octagon didn't last long.
Punk, who was one of WWE's biggest stars when he left it two years ago to try his hand in ultimate fighting, tapped out just 2:14 into the first round after he was pummeled and choked by Mickey Gall on the UFC 203 undercard Saturday night.
The 38-year-old Punk was on his back less than 10 seconds into the fight. Pinned up against the octagon's cage, he was unable to get out from under Gall, who landed numerous blows to both sides of Punk's head.
Looking confident and mugging for the sellout crowd, Punk, whose debut had been delayed by injuries, entered Quicken Loans Arena to "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour, the song he used for years on the WWE circuit.
After stepping into the eight-sided arena for the first time, Punk smiled as he looked across at Gall, an up-and-coming welterweight from New Jersey who had called out the famous wrestler and pledged to "destroy" him.
Gall made good on his promise, quickly shooting a double-legged takedown on Punk, who seemed in shock as he laid flat on his back. With Punk lying prone, Gall smashed a right hand into his temple and then kneeled on top of him and swung both arms like a pendulum, connecting with one hard shot after another.
Punk nearly got free, but Gall regained a dominant position and squeezed his opponent's head like he wanted to snap it off. Punk had no choice but to tap his hand on the mat, ending the fight the way many inside UFC predicted.
"Yeah you know in life you go big or you go home," Punk said afterward. "I just like to take challenges. It was a hell of a climb, I didn't get to the summit tonight but it doesn't mean I'm going to give up it doesn't mean I'm going anywhere, it doesn't mean I'm going to stop."
Punk's first foray into mixed martial arts was on the undercard of heavyweight Stipe Miocic's title defense against Alistair Overeem, who will have to battle both the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder Clevelander and a sellout crowd of more than 20,000 rooting against him.
Before Miocic fought, former champion Fabricio Werdum won a unanimous decision over Travis Browne.
Following the heated bout, Werdum put his gloved hands to his face and was pretending to wipe away tears when he was confronted by Browne's coach Edmond Tarverdyan. Werdum tried to kick Tarverdyan and security rushed into the ring as both corners jawed at each other.
Gall said Punk rushing at him in the opening seconds set the tone.
"He came in hot so I took him down," Gall said. "I wasn't surprised he got through those early chokes because I was only half committing, almost playing a game with it in a way."
Just climbing the steps into the octagon was something of a victory for Punk, who became a villain of sorts inside UFC circles as fans, wrestlers and fellow fighters questioned his motives for taking up a new sport with no experience.
He was accustomed to the outside distractions -- media requests, fans and travel -- for years. But despite working with Duke Roufus and other top trainers at the Roufusport Martial Arts Academy in Milwaukee for the past year, he wasn't ready for Gall.
Still, Punk intends to stick with his new love.
"Obviously, Mickey's a hell of a fighter. I will be back, believe it or not," Punk said. "This was the most fun I've had in my life, second best night of my life after marrying my wife. I know there's a lot of doubters but listen, life's about falling down and getting back up. Doesn't matter how many time you get knocked down, get back up."