UFC 302: Bassil Hafez Brawls With Mickey Gall, Declares “Free Palestine!”

Mickey Gall and Bassil Hafez, UFC 302
Mickey Gall and Bassil Hafez, UFC 302 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Dylan Napoleone/Cageside Press

Mickey Gall returned from a two-year hiatus to take on Bassil Hafez at UFC 302.

Gall drew notice due to entering the UFC in only his second professional fight, at age 23. Coming into this fight, eight years later, he was 6-5 in the promotion, but had lost three of the last four. His opponent, Bassil Hafez, had entered the UFC as a short notice replacement to fight top prospect and ranked contender Jack Della Maddalena, who barely edged out Hafez for a split decision win. In his second UFC fight, Bassil participated in another entertaining clash, this time winning on a three scorecards. However, to some fans, his biggest impact may have come from his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.

Hafez took the front foot in the first round as Gall circled the outside of the octagon. Despite a patient process, Hafez landed several good shots in the next few minutes, including a knee-buckling leg kick, an overhand right, and a crisp 1-2-3 combo. Mickey’s nose began to get more and more beat up while he was able to do little damage, stuck in a defensive mindset. Mixing it up from low to high, as well as beginning to switch from orthodox to southpaw, continued to work for Bassil, who got further and further ahead until Gall landed a few good big counters in the final minute, one of which especially stunned Hafez.

Hafez opened round two wild and missed, but landed clean with a tighter hook next. Gall landed the first big shot of the round that stumbled his foe, however, as Bassil slowed down just a bit and telegraphed too many of his shots. Whenever he focused on good technique and not hunting big shots, Hafez did connect as he did with a shot that sent Mickey back-pedaling, desperately avoiding engagements for a full thirty seconds. With two minutes left, either man had a chance to take the round over and radically change the fight. Gall shot a takedown but Hafez got butterfly hooks and immediately scrambled up. Neither man wanted to open up much, as early in the round they both got cracked whenever they exposed themselves, leaving cover to fire at their foe’s chin. Gall landed the last big shot of the round, but Bassil then took him down and landed a few strikes before the bell.

After a close round two, both men started round three aggressive, with Gall in particularly striking harder and more often. Mickey began to take a lead but then got hurt with a right uppercut that sent him reeling. However he dropped Hafez with a punch of his own, and the bout spiraled into chaos. Both men landed massive shots and shot takedowns. Bassil slowed the pace down halfway through the round when he got in top-half after escaping a Gall guillotine. However, Mickey used the fence and got back up to the cheers of his home state crowd in New Jersey.

Mickey landed a big shot after the reset, but Hafez appeared as iron-chinned as he had against Jack Della Maddalena before. Gall landed a clinch knee and a right hand before Hafez failed a second takedown in the round. The final minute began as Gall begin to take over, landing nearly every right hand he threw due to Hafez’s lack of head movement. However, Hafez landed one last takedown and used the time on top well. Surprisingly, with ten seconds left Bassil let Mickey up, so they could swing it out. Hafez landed the first good shot in that melee, and Mickey retreated till the bell.

When the scorecards were read, it was somewhat anti-climactic after a seemingly close fight. Hafez won all scorecards, two judges even giving him all three rounds.

In his post-fight interview, after saying he has waited fourteen years for a winners interview with Joe Rogan, Hafez delivered a moving personal message to viewers. In it, he spoke about war and innocent people being killed, ending the interview with, “Free Palestine.”

Official Result: Bassil Hafez def. Mickey Gall by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)