While Mickey Gall has notched a trio of UFC victories at 170 pounds, he believes his greatest success will eventually come in the lightweight division.
“I think I’m going to drop down to 155. I think I’m a little young for 170. I think if I go down there I’m the champion in a couple years,” Gall said following his victory over Sage Northcutt on Saturday.
Gall submitted Northcutt with a rear-naked choke 1:40 into the second round of their co-main event clash at UFC on Fox 22 in Sacramento, Calif.. Gall controlled much of the opening stanza through takedowns and positional control, but Northcutt briefly appeared to seize momentum when he bloodied his adversary with punches in round two.
However, Gall quickly regained control when he dropped Northcutt with an overhand right. When the Texan shot for a takedown in response, Gall sprawled and transitioned to Northcutt’s back before securing the fight-ending maneuver.
“He’ll give you a heck of a first round. [He’s] very explosive, very athletic,” Gall said. “I wanted to cook him a little bit. Get him on the ground, lay on him a little bit, suck his energy.”
While Northcutt has been criticized for the promotion push behind him, he entered the bout with a 3-1 record. That was still a significant leap from Gall’s first two Octagon opponents — MMA journalist Mike Jackson and ex-WWE star CM Punk — neither of whom had any UFC experience.
“I feel much better [about this matchup]. It was more of a fight,” Gall said. “It wasn’t a total domination. I got my eyes blackened. Sage is a tough kid; he’s a UFC-caliber guy. He’s a step up in competition.”
While Gall is eyeing a move to 155 pounds, he has one particular opponent in mind: Dan Hardy. The former welterweight title challenger has been hoping to make a comeback after a heart condition sidelined him in 2013. If cleared, “The Outlaw” has hinted that he could compete at 155 pounds instead of 170.
“I did some Googling. He said he wants to come back. He said he wants a marquee fight. I think he’d look at me and say, ‘Oh that ’s a nice fight for me.’ I think he’d take that bait,” Gall said. “For real, I’m a big fan of his. It’d be an honor to fight him.
“The first UFC I ever went to was him vs. GSP for the title in Jersey. I saw Dan Hardy fight a lot.”
Hardy would be a considerable jump in experience, but Gall believes that’s the correct path for him to take.
“I gotta punch up. I want to take out guys that have bigger names than me. Big names make nice trophies, and I want some nice trophies,” he said.
Gall says that current 155-pound king Conor McGregor, who began his UFC tenure at featherweight, is the inspiration behind his decision to drop a division. If all goes as planned for Gall, eventually he could be sharing the Octagon with the “Notorious” Irishman.
“I’d like to go down. I like the way Conor did that,” he said. “Suffer and I want to be the best in a weight class. I think at 155 I’ll have that belt in a couple years. I got in this to be the best in the world. Whoever, whenever, whatever.”