Although CM Punk and others have said they expect the aspiring fighter to be more of a grappler as he transitions into MMA, it sounds like he’s taking to striking pretty well.
After the UFC announced that it had signed Punk (Phil Brooks) to a contract, the former pro-wrestling star said jiu-jitsu would form his base, since he’s trained with Rener Gracie off-and-on over the years. Not only that, but since Punk wrestled professionally for years, and was reportedly very good at it, it makes sense that grappling would come pretty naturally to him.
Well, while all of that might be the case, Punk’s MMA coach, Duke Roufus, is reporting that the Illinois resident is a “natural striker.” Brooks started live sparring just last week, and in a recent episode of “The MMA Hour”, Roufus relayed the following (quote via MMA Fighting.com):
“That being said, he came in with Gracie jiu-jitsu. The natural thing he’s good at, which makes me happy, is striking. He’s a natural striker,” said Roufus, after praising Brooks for his work ethic. “When he did a scrimmage last week, he was pretty comfortable in the fire. He didn’t freak out, he didn’t panic. That’s what I’m looking for in new fighters. It’s not necessarily skill. You can teach skill, but you can’t teach will. Are they going to run and break during a fight, or are they going to get in there and survive the fire? And that’s what I was impressed with. I think in time, all his skills are going to advance, but if he has the mindset and the will, he’s going to do great.”
How about that? Now it will be interesting to see what Roufus reports in say, two, three months from now.
Although Brooks seems to be coming along quite well, in terms of his MMA development, Roufus also said he’d like to have a “year, in terms of getting Punk ready for his UFC debut. The latter started training with Roufus and the Roufusport team in January, but after Punk’s UFC deal was announced, he relayed he hopes to make his debut before the year is out.
The Roufusport gym is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is home to UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, Sergio Pettis, and ONE Welterweight Champion Ben Askren, among many others.