After months of speculation, former pro wrestler CM Punk quietly made his much-anticipated debut as a mixed martial artist at a sparsely attended independent (or “indy”) fighting show last night in Cleveland.
Punk emerged victorious by third-round submission against local indy fighter Chris “Clincher” Carswell at an event held by Absolute Intense MMA (AIMMA) in the gymnasium of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.
Punk impressed the nearly 140 fans in attendance, who frequently serenaded him with singsongy chants of “This is fighting (clap-clap-clapclapclap).”
As news of Punk’s fight spread around the internet this morning, many fans of both pro wrestling and MMA expressed surprise that he didn’t debut on a larger scale, such as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) or the Brawl For All.
While selling t-shirts at his merchandise table during intermission, Punk reportedly said that he prefers “the indies” over mainstream MMA, because he can make a closer connection to the fans, all of whom he loves dearly.
There is still no confirmation as to when Punk will fight in UFC, though he is currently booked over the next several weekends to fight at indy shows by Cage of Honor, Total Nonstop Fighting, and Scottish indy promotion Insane Championship Mixed Martial Artsing.