Bad news for CM Punk fans awaiting his UFC debut – and any MMA purists counting the days until he gets punched in the face. You're going to have to wait a while longer.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for UFC confirmed reports that Punk (real name: Phil Brooks) will undergo surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back, pushing back his already delayed UFC debut another 4-6 weeks. The former WWE champion – who signed a deal with UFC in 2014 with the goal of entering the Octagon the following year – had reportedly been dealing with back issues ever since leaving the world of professional wrestling, and his condition only worsened recently, forcing him to go under the knife.
"My back has always bugged me," Punk told MMAFighting.com. "It got bad enough to the point where I couldn't do anything the week before I went to train with the New Jersey Devils last month. One day I could manage, the next day I couldn't. I've been in agony for almost a month. Chiropractor, acupuncture, massage, cryotherapy...nothing worked."
The news comes just days after Punk learned he'd be facing Mickey Gall – who defeated Mike Jackson at Saturday's UFC Fight Night 82 – in his UFC debut, which president Dana White was reportedly eyeing for UFC 199 in June. Previously, Punk suffered a shoulder injury while training for the fight, though despite his run of injuries, the 37-year-old remains optimistic that he'll bounce back this year.
"This is just a bump in the road," he said. "I'm positive about this."
A UFC rep said that there is no confirmed date for his first fight. Last year, Punk took Rolling Stone inside Milwaukee's Roufusport MMA Academy, where he was preparing for his UFC debut.
"The entire reason I'm doing this isn't about the fight. It's about learning martial [arts], as well as something about myself," he said. "It's literally all about the journey."