If someone mentioned Mickey Gall one year ago, people wouldn’t have known the name.
That’s because Gall had only competed in one professional MMA fight. Luckily for him, that one fight was shown on UFC President Dana White’s own show, Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight, where Gall beat his opponent and earned a spot on the UFC roster. He received quite a bit of mainstream attention, too.
So, Gall, with only one pro fight on his record after accruing an amateur mark of 4-0, was basically seen as a nobody that was getting fed to the wolves. However, for being 24 years old at the time, Gall actually managed to carry himself pretty well.
In his first UFC fight, Gall faced Mike “The Truth” Jackson, a fighter who only had one amateur fight on his record and was making his professional debut. Suffice it to say, Gall had no problem putting the Houston native away in less than one minute. After landing a right hand and dropping Jackson near the fence, Gall took Jackson’s back and finished him with a rear-naked choke to secure his first UFC victory in easy fashion.
Gall’s next bout was considered to be a very high-profile affair for several reasons. Gall was kicking off the main card in only his second UFC fight and third pro fight overall. The most compelling detail, however, was the fact that Gall was going to be taking on former WWE professional wrestler Phil “CM Punk” Brooks, who was making his professional MMA debut after years of performing for fans in choreographed pro-wrestling matches.
Much like he did in the fight against Jackson, Gall took care of business fairly easy. While he didn’t land any significant strikes standing, he immediately took Brooks to the ground and easily moved to mount. After about 90 seconds of landing hard strikes from a dominant position on top, Gall went to his bread and butter, forcing Brooks to turn over while mounted and taking his back, where he finished Brooks with yet another rear-naked choke.
After his fight against Brooks, Gall demanded a fight against a fellow Lookin’ for a Fight alum, Sage Northcutt. Gall threw some barbs at the younger Northcutt in his UFC 203 post-fight interview, calling him “corny” and begging the UFC to “feed” Northcutt to him.
Just over three months later, Gall got his wish. He met Northcutt at UFC on Fox 22 on Dec. 17, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif., where they fought in the coveted co-main event spot. Unlike either of his past professional fights, this one actually went into the second round, as the younger Northcutt managed to give Gall a little bit of a run for his money. The fight was mostly a stand-up affair in the beginning. After a fairly decisive first round for Gall, he decided to go to where he fights best. He took Northcutt down, landing some ground-and-pound. Eventually, he finished the Texan with — you guessed it — a rear-naked choke. That marked Gall’s fourth straight win, all via the same submission technique.
Again, in typical Gall fashion, he made another call-out in his post-fight interview, this time challenging semi-retired UFC fighter, current UFC broadcaster and former welterweight title contender Dan Hardy, who hasn’t fought in more than four years. To many, it seemed like a bit of a strange fight to ask for, seeing as how it’s unclear whether Hardy, who has a rare heart condition which doesn’t allow him to compete currently, will be able to even fight at any point in the near future, if at all.
However, regardless of the Hardy call-out, Gall stated that he’s planning to move down to the lightweight division, which is 15 pounds lighter than where he currently fights. It is by far considered to be the toughest division in the entire organization. The UFC currently employs more lightweights than any other weight class.
After his recent success this past year, multiple questions await Gall: 1) What’s next for him?; 2) If he plans to commit to the 155-pound division, who will he face next?; and 3) Can Gall compete with the best in the world in the toughest division?
There are a plethora of options for Gall in his next fight. The lightweight division is not only stacked, but takes up most of the room on the UFC roster. Gall should probably take on a fighter who is as inexperienced as he is, but someone who is also a good grappler. Gall’s grappling needs to be tested. He’s shown it’s clearly his best attribute, but he’s done so against fighters who lack a similar skill set. If Gall can fight someone who gives him a challenge on the ground, it could be an entertaining battle.
When it comes to the third question, that’s a much more extensive issue. Gall can probably compete with anyone at lightweight if he has the advantage on the ground. However, if he faces a striker who can also stuff his takedowns — or at least prevent Gall from pulling off a submission — he would have a real challenge on his hands. This scenario would also test Gall’s ability to deal with adversity. He hasn’t really faced any adversity at all in his three UFC fights. They have all been smooth sailing, so now he needs a real challenge.
Gall hasn’t received a true challenge yet, and I’m sure if you ask any fight fan, they would definitely agree. That’s why his call-out of Hardy is the wrong move. It seems like a cop-out and an attempt to get an easy tune-up fight against someone who hasn’t fought in years. Of course, that’s not to say Hardy is a bad fighter, but nobody even knows if he’s going to fight, so why even bother entertaining the idea until we know he’s cleared to compete?
Either way, 2017 should be an interesting year for Gall, and it should provide him with opportunities for a real test of his skills. We’ll finally get to see Gall face a serious challenge against top-level competition at a difficult weight class. Then we’ll really know if this kid is legit.