CM Punk, a former professional wrestler, has signed with the UFC, the company announced Saturday during its UFC 181 pay-per-view fight card in Las Vegas.
Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, is expected to debut some time in 2015.
“My professional wrestling days are over, it’s awesome to be here," Brooks said. "This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
Punk, 36, was a three-time WWE World Heavyweight champion and also won the WWE championship twice.
He has attended many UFC events in the past.
“I have a background in kempo and I’ve been doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu for a long time. This is my new career, 100-percent," Brooks said. "I'm going to go full steam ahead, all systems go after today, and it's going to be fun. I have nothing but respect for everybody here at the UFC, everybody who steps in the Octagon to fight. And when it's all said and done, when I'm finished, everybody's going to have to respect me because I have come here to fight."
Punk joins Brock Lesnar as former WWE stars who joined the UFC. Lesnar steamrolled his way to the UFC heavyweight title and looked unstoppable in mixed martial arts until he was sidelined with diverticulitis. Lesnar eventually quit MMA and returned to the WWE.
“I felt like it was now or never," Brooks said. "I have a limited window most fighters don't have. I'm either here to win or get my ass kicked."