MILWAUKEE- Many tried, but few were able to succeed in a transition between WWE the way Brock Lesnar did, and CM Punk took note.
Lesnar made his professional debut in 2007 and in only his second professional fight, made his UFC debut at UFC 81 in Feb. 2008 against Frank Mir. In only his fourth career fight, Lesnar stopped Randy Couture at UFC 91 in Nov. 2008 to become the UFC heavyweight champion.
No one else had made the jump from the world of sports entertainment to the Octagon since Lesnar. Until now.
Former WWE champion CM Punk announced in December of 2014 that he had a signed a deal with the UFC, even though he had no prior training or fight experience. He will be making his long awaited UFC debut at UFC 203 against Mickey Gall.
Lesnar returned to WWE in 2012 after retiring from the UFC after his loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141 through mutual friend and Lesnar associate, Paul Heyman, where he crossed paths with then-wrestling superstar Punk. After a four-year hiatus, Lesnar returned to the UFC to face Mark Hunt at UFC 200. "The Beast Incarnate" controlled the fight and won by unanimous decision. Then, it all went downhill for Lesnar.
Shortly after the fight, it was revealed Lesnar had failed his pre-and post-fight drug tests for hydroxy-clomiphene which stymies the production of estrogen to stimulate natural testosterone production. It is commonly used as post-cycle therapy for those coming off of anabolic steroids.
Punk, real name is Phil Brooks lives the straight-edge lifestyle -- no drugs, tobacco or alcohol. While he thought Lesnar looked great against Hunt, Punk wasn't happy though with the aftermath of seeing a failed drug test happen to someone he's friendly with.
"I think it sucks," Punk told Fightful during his UFC 203 Media Day. "I do. I get tested by USADA all the time and I’m the drug free kid and I still get nervous (laughs). It’s like when you are driving on the highway and the cop’s behind you and you’re like, “Oh I wasn’t speeding and my taillights aren’t out”.
"I like what they are doing with the sport. That whole thing bums me out. He came back. He fought an impressive fight, he won and he fails a test. It bums me out. It bums me out when anyone fails a test."
Since Lesnar failed the test, Punk was lumped in with the fellow pro-wrestler, and the subsequent 'steroid' stereotype. The Chicago native debunked the myth and turned the table on the matter.
"Look at me and look at the guys who have failed tests," Punk said. "I’m the skinny, fat kid from Chicago. I don’t think it reflects on me at all. If it reflects on me, it’s because I’m a fighter in the UFC."
When Punk first announced his new mixed martial arts venture, one of the first people he reached out to was Lesnar. Since then, Punk hasn't heard from Lesnar, and thinks it's due to embattled star moving to the middle of nowhere in Canada.
"Nah," Punk said. "He reached out and offered his help and support. He gave me the thumbs up and said reach out if you have stupid questions, go ahead and ask me. He lives in the middle of nowhere, like in Saskatchewan. I think I texted him once and it bounced back to me right away. I didn’t expect him to get back to me right away. He’s like combining on the farm somewhere."
Lesnar returns to the WWE on September 24 at a WWE live event in a Summerslam rematch against Randy Orton. UFC 203 takes place Saturday from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The venue was the last time Punk made an appearance under the WWE umbrella. at main event features Stipe Miocic defending the UFC heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem.