On paper, the UFC debut of CM Punk smells money. Punk, who had a 15-year professional wrestling career, has a cult fan base that still follows him passionately. Everyone wants to know how Punk would fare in the octagon and this was probably the reason why Dana White did not hesitate to sign the former WWE champion when he had the chance.
As there is a lot of hype surrounding the whole debut, choosing the first opponent of Punk was a daunting task for UFC. The rigorous search had many constraints and once it was done, White finally settled for Mickey Gall, the 24-year-old fighter who had a first round submission win against Mike Jackson on his UFC debut at Fight Night 82.
At this point, most UFC fans would recognize Mickey as the 'Guy who will face CM Punk' but if we look closer, Mickey is never the underdog in this fight. In fact, he is someone who could destroy the MMA dream of CM Punk in Punk's much-hyped debut itself.
I recently had a chance to catch up with Mickey and he shared his thoughts about CM Punk, professional wrestling, Conor McGregor and much more. Below is the transcript of the interview.
His MMA background
I started doing Jiu-Jitsu when I was around 16 and I had boxed a bit before that but not consistently. But when I started Jiu-Jitsu, I kind of stuck to that and has been doing it ever since.
I wrestled in Junior high school and does some Muay Thai as well. And when I decided to become an MMA fighter, I started working out in all the disciplines.
How he rates CM Punk and about Punk's injury
I haven’t seen much of CM Punk but I'm very confident that he is not as good as me any area. I don't think he is a legit UFC talent. He could be a tough guy and I'm sure he is a talented guy but I don't think he could acquire the skills that I have in such a limited time that he had put into it.
Apparently Punk had only a minor surgery. He said he was suffering from lingering back problems. I hope that is healthy so that we could fight. I hope it is being handled properly by his team.
Pressure of facing Punk
I felt amazing after my first UFC fight on February 6. There is always pressure when you fight because you are going to get into a fight in front of a whole bunch of people, It is televised and all that stuff. So where and how many people are watching does not really matter.
I see myself as the favourite heading into this match.
About when and where his fight with CM Punk would be
I have a feeling that it's going to be in UFC 200 but nothing is official yet. The reason why I want to face him is because he is a big name and I knew that I would be able to fight him because I had a light record. When I called him out as I was 1-0 and he was 0-0 so I have a similar record and that's what led to this fight.
If I had a choice, I would face him at UFC 200 but honestly, I would fight him anywhere as long as it's on UFC.
On Professional Wrestling being fake and MMA being real
I think wrestling is entertaining. I used to be a big fan of it when I was a kid . They do some cool stuff but I think it does not even compare to MMA. MMA is real, that stuff [wrestling], the falls and slams are real but it's all fake, it's all pretended, it's like athletic acting.
His plans after the CM Punk fight
After the fight, I would be looking forward to facing the top guys of the world in the UFC roster. I'm excited to be in this fight, I'll get some good exposure, I'll beat up a celebrity [CM Punk] and then I will get to fight the real top level MMA fighters.
Thoughts on Conor McGregor and Dana White
I have a popular opinion on him [Conor McGregor]. He is extremely entertaining and is a great fighter. I'm a McGregor fan.
Dana White, I love him. I'm a big fan. Without him, I wouldn't be in this spot I'm right now and he is a great guy. He is extremely pleasant and at the same time, he is a good intelligent businessman as he made UFC the top tier company. He was very instrumental in that.
Message for the fans
I don't really have a message. I hope everyone is keeping good and I look forward to fighting and entertaining everyone.
The CM Punk vs. Mickey Gall fight is yet to be confirmed by UFC, but when the moment finally arrives, the names of CM Punk and Mickey Gall would be etched into the UFC history books forever.