The date for CM Punk's highly anticipated debut has been set.
CM Punk announced Thursday morning on the new UFC Unfiltered podcast that he will be facing Mickey Gall at UFC 203 on Sept. 10 in Cleveland. MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani had previously reported that debuting at UFC 203 was the plan for Punk.
Punk broke the news officially to Unfiltered hosts Matt Serra and comedian Jim Norton. The former WWE star signed with the UFC in December 2014 to much buzz and most expected him to have fought by now, but a series of injuries sidelined him.
Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, said he was just cleared by doctors this week after a back injury put him on the shelf in February. He has been training for more than a year now at Roufusport in Milwaukee.
The Chicago native left WWE in early 2014 after butting heads with company execs. He stunned the pro-wrestling and MMA worlds later that year by announcing his signing with the UFC. Punk had no previous combat sports experience and very little martial arts training outside of some Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Rener Gracie and kenpo karate when he was younger.
Serra and Norton asked him for his motivation on the podcast. Many critics thought he would never go through with stepping in the Octagon, but now the date has been set. Punk was a former WWE champion and one of the biggest stars in sports entertainment.
"I think there's probably something seriously wrong with me," Punk said with a laugh. "Everyone is trying to figure out why I would want to do this. I'm a guy who gets bored easily and I have goals and there's things in life I enjoy. It's not about the destination; it's about the journey."
Gall (2-0) debuted in the UFC with a first-round submission victory over Mike Jackson in February. He was picked up after being discovered by UFC president Dana White and Serra on the "Lookin' for a Fight" show on UFC Fight Pass. Gall called out Punk while White and Serra were in the audience and White liked his style and personality.
Gall, 24, was told if he beat Jackson, he'd get his wish: a fight with CM Punk. And that's exactly what the New Jersey native did.
UFC 203 is headlined by a heavyweight title fight between champion Stipe Miocic and challenger Alistair Overeem. In the co-main event, former heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum meets Ben Rothwell.
It's unclear where on the card Punk vs. Gall will be, but it is likely to be featured on pay-per-view.