Will WWE stars return to UFC? Why Dana White may give CM Punk another shot after his unsuccessful debut

Over the last few years, there’s been some crossover between WWE and UFC athletes, and you can make the argument that this actually helps the WWE’s image. While there are still countless pro wrestling fans out there—some say the organization is better than ever—there are still many who eye it with some level of amusement. There’s undoubtedly an element of pageantry to pro wrestling. But the fact that some of the WWE’s top stars have proven capable of holding their own in unscripted mixed martial arts bouts makes those wrestlers look all the more impressive. MMA is an incredibly demanding sport requiring the highest levels of athleticism and skill from its competitors.

Competing in MMA, and specifically in the UFC, also makes for some good exposure for WWE athletes. Once a fringe sports organization, we reached the point some time ago at which we realized that UFC attracted similar viewing figures to boxing matches, and it’s only continued to grow. UFC was sold for $4 billion just this summer, and it seems that with each marquee fight there are more and more people paying fees and gathering with friends to watch. It may not still seem like it to everybody, but it’s become a major sport.

And a few WWE stars—Brock Lesnar and CM Punk in particular—have made their impact on it. Both fighters have competed in the UFC, and it seems like it’s been a win for all involved. But right now, there’s actually some doubt as to whether Lesnar and CM Punk will be competing in UFC anymore moving forward.

In Lesnar’s case, that’s due to a suspension for violating the UFC’s anti-doping regulations during UFC 200. At the event, Lesnar tested positive for an estrogen-blocker, even as he stepped into the octagon and defeated Mark Hunt. But when the testing results came to light, he received a temporary suspension from competition. And given that the fighter is 39 years old, you have to wonder if he’ll put too much effort into making a comeback, if and when he’s reinstated. For his part, Lesnar thanked his UFC fans and acknowledged that he could return one day, but his future in MMA is in doubt, to say the least.

In the case of CM Punk, things are a little bit different. Punk has fought in UFC but didn’t have as much success as Lesnar, but UFC boss Dana White isn’t closing the door on giving him another shot. The feeling seems to be that Punk was in over his head when he fought (and was subdued by) Mickey Gall at UFC 203. But White has suggested that Punk could work his way up in MMA fighting and ultimately return to the octagon if things work out.

It still seems likely that, at some point, we’ll see another WWE star make his or her way into the UFC octagon. But it’s not at all certain that the star will be Lesnar or Punk.