Phil "CM Punk" Brooks has heard all the criticisms – that he's too old to step inside the UFC Octagon, that his former career in WWE has afforded him undeserved status in the world of mixed martial arts, that he can't take a punch – and he could care less about any of them. He didn't sign with fighting's premier promotion just to make a quick buck, and he's not worried about what will happen when he finally faces off against an opponent prepared to inflict actual harm upon him. He's here because he feels he has something to prove…to himself.
Though he's yet to set a date for his UFC debut (or reveal just who he'll be fighting), Punk's been in training for months, and recently moved to Milwaukee to do intensive work at the Roufusport Mixed Martial Arts Academy, the gym founded by famed kickboxer Duke Roufus. Late last month, Punk offered Rolling Stone a glimpse of his new life, giving us unprecedented access to his fight preparations, inviting us into the home he shares with his wife – former WWE Divas Champ April "AJ Lee" Mendez-Brooks and even allowing us to tag along as he walked his dog, Larry Talbot.
For a guy who's not exactly known for his openness, Punk was more than willing to talk about walking away from his WWE career, silencing his many detractors and preparing to punch – and get punched. "The entire reason I'm doing this isn't about the fight," he says. "It's literally all about the journey."
Here's a look at that journey.