Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight newcomers C.M. Punk and Mickey Gall will battle this Saturday (Sept. 10, 2016) at UFC 203 inside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. In one of the more bizarre match ups in recent history, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Let's break it down.
By this point, the story of C.M. Punk (a.k.a. Phil Brooks) is reasonably well-known. The former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar wishes to test himself in live competition — probably making some scratch along the way — and he’s been given an opportunity on the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) stage. Gall is rather inexperienced himself, but he does have a few victories and some history of combat experience. In his sole UFC bout, Gall looked like a rather solid prospect, though his role in this bout is to serve as a test for Punk.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: None
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Analyzing footage that doesn't exist is not yet a talent of mine, so Punk's working skill set is pretty much a complete mystery. Really, all anyone knows is that he has something of a grappling background, is working with a renown kickboxing coach, and is a very hard worker.
As for attributes and intangibles like Fight IQ, conditioning, physical strength ... Well, your guess is as good as mine.
Based off Gall's preference and Brooks' interviews, it seems that Punk is intending to drag his foe into deep water and overwhelm him as he tires. While that may not seem like a wise strategy for the older fighter, conditioning is something that Punk should have a reasonable amount of control over, even as an amateur.
Plus, both of his opponent's bouts have ended in the first round.
To tire his foe, Punk likely wants to close the distance on his lanky foe and work in the clinch. From there, he could also look for takedowns and try to wear down the jiu-jitsu fighter with his top game.
Record: 2-0 pro, 3-0 amateur
Key Wins: Mike Jackson (UFC Fight Night 82)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Gall is a 24-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt training under the Miller brothers. Not a ton is known about his game, but he's shown some solid jiu-jitsu in his short career. Plus, he dropped Jackson with a solid cross in his Octagon debut and looked confident on his feet, so he's likely skilled there as well.
In this bout, there's no real reason to strategize all that much. Brooks is a very inexperienced fighter, and he's never actually fought before. With that in mind, he's almost certainly going to have one of the two reactions that 90 percent of debuting fighters fall back on.
He's either going to rush forward with wild combinations, or he's going to be very hesitant.
Either way, Gall should be composed enough to capitalize. If Punk comes out swinging, he can simply change levels and look for the takedown. If not, Gall can walk his man down and set up his takedown as usual.
Once on the mat, Gall's jiu-jitsu should shine through.
Bottom Line: In terms of divisional relevance, this fight is entirely meaningless.
Of course, it’s a big moment for Mickey Gall. He’s been training seriously for a long time, and he managed to talk himself into a big opportunity. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, as Gall now has a solid chance to make a name for himself early in his career.
If he’s as talented as some say, that could be a major help down the line.
With a win, Gall may not earn much recognition — who cares about beating up a 37-year-old amateur? — but it’ll help make him a name. If he loses, however, Gall is in a rather embarrassing position and may be on his way out of UFC.
Punk is never going to climb the ranks or do anything significant inside the Octagon. This is entirely a personal journey. Whether he wins or loses, this could be a positive experience for Punk if he can show off all his skill and hard work from the past two years.
At UFC 203, Mickey Gall and CM Punk will scrap in a strange match up. Which man will have his hand raised?