Mickey Gall did his part. Now the rest is up to the UFC.
Gall made short work of Mike Jackson in the featured UFC Fight Pass prelim of UFC Fight Night “Hendricks vs. Thompson” on Saturday, finishing his opponent in just 45 seconds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to set up a future showdown with former pro-wrestling star CM Punk. Gall, who was discovered by UFC boss Dana White on the reality series “Looking for a Fight,” dropped Jackson with a right hand before quickly taking his foe’s back and securing the fight-ending rear-naked choke.
After the victory, Gall briefly squared off with his future opponent in the Octagon. Had Gall lost, Jackson was not expected to receive the chance to face Punk, which would have left the longtime WWE veteran without an opponent for his UFC debut.
“It feels amazing to be here in this moment. The whole time I’ve been having a lot of fun, even the media side of things. I’ve been getting a lot more love than hate with it being my debut in the UFC,” Gall said. “I know I’m ready for CM Punk and it was really cool to get a chance to talk with him in the Octagon, but now I’m ready to get back to training. I love to be in the gym, it’s not really a grind for me, so I’m ready to get back to it.”
Backstage, Punk was clearly excited at having a name and face for his own Octagon debut. The Chicago native signed with the UFC in December 2014 and has been training at Roufusport in Milwaukee in preparation for his first promotional foray.
“I’m having fun, and it looked like he was having fun,” Punk said in an interview on UFC Fight Pass. “I just think in this world [MMA] especially, a lot of people especially are taking themselves too seriously. I know I certainly don’t, and it doesn’t look like he does. You can kind of lose yourself in the seriousness of it. You can beat yourself up before you get to a fight. It’s good to know that he’s having fun.
White came away impressed with the young prospect, who choked out Ron Templeton at a Dead Serious MMA event last November to catch the UFC president’s eye. After that victory, Gall asked for a showdown with Punk.
“It’s all about being the right guy in the right place at the right time,” White said. “We’re traveling around to all these shows. We’re seeing a lot of interesting people that we normally wouldn’t see if we weren’t doing this. Mickey Gall had it that night. Everybody’s been calling out Punk, but that’s the guy I liked.”
Now, it’s a matter of setting a date for Punk and Gall to lock horns in the Octagon. Like many within the Las Vegas-based promotion, Punk wants a spot on the marquee event of 2016.
“It’s not up to me, but if I have any stroke at all I’m still saying [UFC 200],” he said. “But we’ll have to wait and see.”
However, that is far from a done deal. In fact, White says the promotion initially had a different date in mind.
“That’s what we’re still working on. We’ll figure this thing out and we’ll announce something soon,” White said.
“We were looking at June at [UFC 199], so we’ll see what happens. I know [Punk wants UFC 200]. Everybody wants to fight at 200, but I can’t put everybody on 200.”