Mickey Gall built his career on calling fighters out, and used that skill to secure him a high-profile bout at UFC 235 against Diego Sanchez.
In mid-2015, the MMA world was introduced to the show Dana White’s Lookin’ for a Fight, a talent-hunt travel show in which UFC President Dana White went to local MMA promotions trying to find, “the next Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor…” The show in its run managed to find some genuine prospects, one of them was Mickey Gall. Gall gained attention by calling out former WWE superstar CM Punk to his debut match on the show. After a one-sided win in his UFC debut against Mike Jackson, Gall got his wish and faced Punk at UFC 203. The match barely lasted two minutes, with Gall getting the early tap. Since then, Gall has been on an interesting path.
Gall knew what he wanted and being a skilled speaker managed to convey it pretty well. After his decisive triumph, he immediately called out fellow Looking for a fight finding Sage Northcutt to a match. Northcutt agreed and faced Gall in late 2016, with Gall securing another submission win, thereby locking in his status as a prospect to look out for. At UFC 235 he takes a bigger step in his career when he faces the legendary four-time Fight of the Year winner, Diego Sanchez. The former lightweight title challenger might not be the same killer he was years ago but still carries heavy name value. A win over him legitimizes Gall record.
Mickey Gall’s success does highlight one thing: MMA is very similar to the showbiz. One needs to be very careful about what they say and how they say it. The reason why Gall wasn’t lost in a heap of other fighters was because of him knowing exactly how much statements affect his career. He picked the perfect opponent in Sage Northcutt following his win over Punk and he did the very same thing last year in August when he called out Sanchez. He has picked his opponents very carefully. He didn’t pick easy fights but at the same time, didn’t leave his fate entirely in the hands of UFC to decide his next opponent.
Most fighters rarely name anyone in their post-fight interviews. Not only do they lose the chance to capitalize on the major moments, they also fail to get a better opportunity to grow. Another example of someone who has managed to gain attention via callouts is Cynthia Calvillo, who rose up the strawweight division very quickly after being signed.
Gall enters the fight with some momentum behind him. If he does manage to win, he’ll be entering a tougher zone. From there, he won’t just be someone who can call fighters out but will also have to deal with fighters calling him out. But first, he will have to take on the old but still strong titan, Diego Sanchez. At UFC 235, Gall will have a lot of people following him for many different reasons. From here on, his journey is going to be interesting.
UFC 235 takes place Saturday, March 2, at the T-Mobile Arena in Nevada. The card airs exclusively on PPV in North America after televised and online prelims, and on BT Sport in the UK. In India, the card airs on Sunday, March 3, live on SONY SIX and SONY SIX HD.