After a blistering defeat by Mickey Gall at UFC 203, CM Punk's debut was cut short in the first round.
He gave Gall a speech during a long embrace, scowled at his new cauliflower ear and expressed disappointment in the post-fight interview. Everyone figured that it would end with that, but it looks like Punk may actually get another fight with the UFC.
After getting beat by essentially an amateur, what's next for a guy like Punk? Here are at least five options listed in order from most likely to "I can't believe they did this."
Mike "The Truth" Jackson
The most likely opponent for CM Punk could be the other guy who may have gotten the opportunity to fight him.
Mike Jackson was told if Mickey Gall beat him at UFC Fight Night, then Gall would fight Punk, but if Jackson won, then he wouldn't. It may be time to rectify that snub and give both guys a chance to prove themselves again. Jackson already made it evident that he has the charisma to sell a fight, and it comes complete with its own built-in storyline.
Looks like Jackson isn't wasting any time trying to make it happen himself.
It's hard to figure out where to go with CM Punk when his last loss was to a guy who had only two pro fights, but Enrique Marín might be a good shot.
The last time Marín fought in the UFC, it was losing to Sage Northcutt at UFC 200. That puts Marín at two losses in both of his fights in the UFC. At risk of being on the chopping block, Marín's saving grace could be a fight with Punk.
CM Punk vs. Enrique Marín: Loser Leaves the UFC. Book it.
Jason David Frank
Ever since CM Punk announced (the first time) that he was going to fight in the UFC, Jason David Frank (better known as the Green Power Ranger) constantly campaigned to fight him.
As an accomplished martial artist, Frank is actually undefeated in MMA with three amateur victories and one professional win, all of which are either by knockout or submission. If there was ever a time to actually make a fight like this, it's now.
The UFC used a show almost entirely for the purpose to find an opponent for Punk, so they might as well use the Power Rangers to choose his second opponent. It's Punkin' time!
If the UFC is not going to book CM Punk against a young amateur, what about an old legend that happens to be a severely diminished version of themselves?
Kazushi Sakuraba is on a five-fight losing streak and probably shouldn't fight anymore. His last loss was a stoppage by Shinya Aoki in the first round in December, 2015 at Rizin. Ironically, that may make him a good opponent for Punk. Not to mention, Sakuraba has a rich history as a pro-wrestler, as well.
Sakuraba would still probably win by wrist lock, but late in the third round because he'd literally do wrestling moves and Mongolian chop Punk while sitting in his open guard.
Actually, maybe he submits him by Figure Four or a Sharpshooter.
Let's get down to brass tacks.
CM Punk fighting in the UFC was a gimmick fight, which was a throwback to the early freak show years. So, if he really is going to have another fight, why not just go all in and have him fight someone ridiculous, like Edmond Tarverdyan?
Even the fans who got their fill after seeing Punk lose his debut would want to watch this. Put him in another elite camp, and milk it for all it is worth. He could train with Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA and Fabricio Werdum could corner him.
It'd be a whole new documentary special on Fox Sports called: "CM Punk: Hangin' In There."