Punk is pursuing a personal dream, accompanied by a substantial payday, when he enters the ranks of professional mixed martial artists when he faces Mickey Gall on Saturday. Having no amateur of professional fighting background, it’s an oddity that such a fighter would debut in the UFC, let alone in the middle of a pay-per-view main card. Punk, however, is an exception to the rule, including those of the Ohio Athletic Commission, which granted him a waiver, so that he’d be eligible to fight.
A report from Combat Sports Law was the first to highlight Ohio Administrative Code 3773-7-20(E), which sets the following standard for a debuting professional mixed martial artis: A mixed martial arts fighter will be required to have a minimum of five recorded amateur bouts with a winning record prior to being permitted to compete as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. They may appeal to the executive director or Ohio athletic commission to have this waived.
The code certainly applied in Punk’s case, as he has zero combat sports experience in an organized capacity. The Ohio commission, however, decided to waive the requirement based on several considerations, including Punk’s professional wrestling experience under the WWE banner.
“He has a wrestling background and is being trained at one of the top gyms (Roufusport) and is competing against a fighter with two pro fights,” Bernie Profato, executive director of the Ohio commission, told MMAWeekly.com.
Gall did not face the same hurdle, as his limited experience includes two professional fights, including one under the UFC banner, as well as three amateur bouts. He won all five fights.
Punk and Gall are scheduled to take the third slot on the UFC 203 pay-per-view main card, which is headlined by hometown champion Stipe Miocic putting his heavyweight belt on the line against Alistair Overeem.