By the time CM Punk decided to walk away from professional wrestling “making the walk” didn’t quite do it for him anymore.
Just three days before he makes his first walk as an actual fighter, Punk is thrilled for the butterflies to return.
“I’m cool as a cucumber. I stated already that I’m sure I’ll have pre-fight butterflies, but I’m actually looking forward to feeling that again,” Punk said Wednesday during a media scrum following his UFC 203 open workout. “It was a long time that, before I’d go through a curtain, I would just sit there and be like, ‘They’re (the butterflies) not coming. They’re gone.’
“They were gone for a long time and I’m glad they’re back.”
Punk makes his UFC debut against Mickey Gall on the main card at UFC 203 Saturday on Pay-Per-View.
Trying to avoid injury, Punk did just a light workout at Gateway Plaza in Cleveland, outside Quicken Loans Arena. Fans gathered hoping to get a look at Punk’s standup game, but the 37-year-old is saving everything he has to show for Pay-Per-View and the Cleveland crowd.
“What am I gonna do, knock out my coach?” Punk said. “I think I’m more paranoid about doing something stupid and getting hurt. I don’t want to do that. We’re knocking on the door here. I’m trying to do everything I can to stay healthy.”
After his short workout, Punk spent the rest of his time taking pictures and signing autographs for fans. It was a pro-Punk crowd and he expects that to be the case when he fights.
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At his height in the WWE, Punk was one of the most “over” wrestlers on the roster. But even with all the fan support and the perks of superstar life, the grind took its toll on Punk. Comparing pro wrestling and MMA after his first full camp ahead of his first actual fight, Punk said he prefers the fight life.
“Do a full fight camp but fly to a different time zone every night. And then sleep in your car every once and again because there is a Lego convention in a small town that you didn’t know was there and all the hotels are booked,” Punk said. “Traveling sucks and I just got burnt out on it.
“No matter how frustrated, beat up, or bad day I had in the gym, I could always go home. See my wife, see my dog, and sleep in my own bed. Take a shower in my own shower and not have to rifle through my bag to find something that’s relatively clean to wear.”
The bottom line for Punk is that he’s enjoying what he does again and that’s the most important part of life, he said.
“I’m happy. That’s all that matters to me.”
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC