‘CM Punk’ strongly hints at UFC 225 return

Phil “CM Punk” Brooks has been teasing a return to the octagon for several months.

The former professional wrestling superstar gave the most clear indication yet Monday he intends to compete on the UFC 225 card in Chicago, his hometown.

Brooks, who was submitted in the first round of his professional MMA debut by Mickey Gall at UFC 203 in September 2016, was asked on Twitter about when he next planned to cry in the cage.

He put a positive spin on the intended insult.

SHORT DESCRIPTION (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

“June nine, after I win and lock eyes with my beautiful wife, embrace my coaches and shout out my entire team,” Brooks responded.

UFC officials have not confirmed Brooks on the card, though UFC president Dana White has indicated he wouldn’t opposeBrooks getting another chance in the organization.

Speculation on a potential opponent has centered on Mike Jackson, whose only UFC appearance also was a first-round submission loss to Gall.

Brooks, 39, previously has expressed a desire to compete on the pay-per-view event in Chicago. UFC 225 already includes a heavyweight bout between contenders Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes.

A middleweight title bout between Yoel Romero and champion Robert Whittaker is being targeted as a main event, though that fight is not official.

Pennington gets title shot

Top UFC women’s bantamweight contender Raquel Pennington was in negotiations for a championship bout against Amanda Nunes when the biggest opportunity of her life was suddenly in doubt after the UFC 222 post-fight news conference earlier this month.

Cris “Cyborg” Justino had just defended her belt with another first-round knockout, prompting UFC president Dana White to propose a superfight between champions Justino and Nunes.

The logistics didn’t work out, however, and UFC officials have now confirmed Pennington will challenge Nunes for the belt in the main event of UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro.

“Before all of that (talk) occurred, we were negotiating my contract and getting everything locked down,” Pennington told ESPN. “I was supposed to get my contract before Cyborg even fought. That didn’t happen, so everything that was said, obviously it was very frustrating.

“I wouldn’t be the only athlete to ever see it happen, where the UFC maybe changes fights or something, but I think common sense prevailed. This is a fight I deserve. I’ve earned my spot.”

Pennington, 29, has four straight wins, but hasn’t competed since a win over former champion Miesha Tate in November 2016.

She is fully recovered from a serious ATV accident that left her unable to compete and now ready to resume her quest for the belt.

UFC 224, which is scheduled for May 12, also includes a middleweight bout between Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort.

USADA issues sanctions

A pair of UFC fighters were issued six-month suspensions last week for two different violations of the organization’s anti-doping policy.

Women’s strawweight contender Cynthia Calvillo was sanctioned by USADA, the independent administrator of the policy, for a post-fight test showing the presence of marijuana metabolites after her loss to Carla Esparza. The penalty is retroactive to Dec. 30, the day of the fight.

Calvillo, 30, can have the length of her suspension cut in half upon completion of a drug awareness program. She still, however, faces a disciplinary hearing on the matter in front of the Nevada Athletic Commission on the matter.

Light heavyweight Ion Cutelaba also received a six-month sanction, though his was the result of undergoing experimental ozone therapy treatments. The procedure purports to increase the amount of oxygen in the body through the introduction of ozone. It is banned by USADA and WADA.

“It has been a very difficult and emotional past few months,” he wrote in a statement. “I maintain that during my Ozonotherapy I did not take any illegal products and have never acted with intent to cheat in my life. My intentions have always been pure. My violation is not one of cheating, but one of ignorance where I accepted a treatment which would not have had any performance enhancing effect, but alas was banned under the USADA rules.”

Cutelaba disclosed his use of the treatment during an out-of-competition test and was subsequently removed from a scheduled bout in November. He is eligible to return on May 3.

More MMA: Follow all of our MMA and UFC coverage online at CoveringTheCage.com and @CoveringTheCage on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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