While the heavyweight championship bout between Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem is technically the main event of UFC 203, all the MMA world is talking about is the debut of former WWE champion CM Punk.
It seems an age since Punk showed up at UFC 181 in December 2014 and shocked both the MMA and sports-entertainment worlds by announcing he’d signed up to fight in the UFC.
All this followed hot on the heels of his much-publicised departure from the WWE the previous January on the day after the Royal Rumble.
The spat saw him receive his termination papers on his wedding day and has Punk facing $1m defamation lawsuit over comments he made about the WWE’s doctor on a podcast. A lawsuit he says WWE CEO Vince “Mr” McMahon is bankrolling.
When you add into the mix that Punk has had zero pro or amateur MMA experience, his first proper fight ever will be on pay-per-view for the biggest company in the world and that the contest has been delayed for well over a year due to injuries, the hype around this bout is incredible.
Given that Punk is now 37 and has had his body has been slammed from pillar to post around the world while wrestling, it’s is no wonder he is the underdog to win this welterweight contest.
The UFC is backing the fight with some major money too. They released a YouTube reality show entitled ‘Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight’ which featured the company’s president scouring local fights for an up-and-company opponent for Punk and it was there he found young Mickey Gall.
Gall is pup in MMA terms at 24 years old and the fight that convinced Dana White to give him a shot at former wrestling champ was his first pro win.
He didn’t quite have Punk handed to him on a silver platter however, as he had win on his UFC debut against Mike Jackson to claim it. Not only was Gall victorious, he landed a spectacular rear-naked-choke win after knocking Jackson silly with a right hand.
Punk was well known during his WWE days for his love of jiu-jitsu, but we believe a good value play is Gall to repeat the trick and land a submission on Punk in the first round at .
One factor that is in Punk’s favour is that he has performed in front of thousands and thousands of people at huge events like Wrestlemania in the past.
Gall may blink in the bright lights and get put to sleep by Punk if he does. If you believe that will happen, you can grab a CM Punk KO at .
One thing is for sure though, Punk is no Brock Lesnar and we think that should tip the scales in Gall’s favour at .
Of the other fights on the card, a double of Overeem to beat Miocic for the heavyweight title and Jimmie Rivera overcoming Urijah Faber comes niftily at over 3/1.
Overeem, who holds a win over Lesnar, is on a four-fight win streak which includes an outstanding TKO over Andrei Arlovski last time out at home in the Netherlands.
Rivera for his part has only been beaten once in his whole career and Faber – who swapped barbs with Conor McGregor on the Ultimate Fight – looks very much in the twilight of his, so expect a Rivera win in that one at .