I compliment Mickey Gall on his patience. Not many 26-year-old prospects would suffer their first professional loss and then take nine months to go to the woodshed to build their game before returning to action.
“It’s not easy,” admits Gall. He pauses, then laughs.
“To be honest, I was beating down the door, saying, ‘Let me fight short-notice on that Boston card; if anybody pulls out, let me know.’ And I wasn’t being that patient. But time heals. I came out to LA and I assessed the situation. How am I going to evolve? My job is to get as good as I can as fast as I can. So I got acclimated and I put in a lot of hard work. But I was chomping at the bit to fight. I was trying to fight all summer and this one finally stuck.”
“This one” is a Saturday bout against fellow New Jersey native George Sullivan, Gall’s first bout since a hard-fought decision loss to Randy Brown at UFC 217 last November. It’s also his first appearance since he left the Garden State to go to Los Angeles to room with UFC vet Yves Edwards and train with the likes of kickboxing star Joe Schilling.
“It was just to keep myself evolving, keep growing and keep getting better,” said Gall, who has his Jersey contingent with him in Lincoln, along with Schilling. “Joe Schilling is a huge part of this. He’s probably the best American kickboxer ever for my money. He’s a friend and has been a coach for the last few months. I understand striking better than I ever have and that’s all thanks to him.”
But is Gall now smoking two packs a day trying to keep up with Schilling?
“He’s crazy,” Gall laughs. “He’ll be in the parking lot smoking a cigarette and we’ll go for a run and he’ll smoke a cigarette. Go do some kickboxing, he’ll smoke a cigarette. Go do some jiu-jitsu, smoke a cigarette.”
So don’t try this at home?
“Do what I say, not what I do,” said Gall. “But he’s a bad mother**ker.”
Already a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu who has ended all four of his pro wins by submission, Gall’s ground game is well-established. So was it his striking attack that needed some tweaking?
“There was a lot of fat I had to trim,” said Gall. “I’ve been working since around the CM Punk fight with Sean Diggs, but I needed some higher-level training partners and I needed to get around people who were better than me in certain areas. I was the best guy in my gym in Jersey. Coming up at AMA Fight Club, I was the small fish in a pond that had Dan Miller, Jim Miller, tough guys to push me. And then I became the big fish at my school. I have a lot of tough, young killers who will be coming up and who give me great work, but I need to be training with guys who push me all the time, and that’s a big thing that I got out here in LA.”
It takes a mature athlete to admit that he needs to switch things up midstream as well as take a loss for what it is – a bump in the road that isn’t the end of the world. Well, today it’s not the end of the world. On November 4, the ultra-competitive Gall likely felt differently.
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