While Mickey Gall is going to encounter considerable pressure tomorrow (Sat., Sept. 10, 2016) at UFC 203 as a 24-year-old kid making his second Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) appearance, the majority of the attention will be cast upon former WWE superstar CM Punk as he makes his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut live on pay-per-view (PPV) from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
UFC has caught a considerable amount of backlash for not only signing Punk in the first place, but showcasing him on a PPV card with zero MMA experience. Still, UFC president Dana White believes Punk's bout with Gall is anything but a gimmick fight.
"I don't think there's any defending the match up," said White earlier this week during an appearance on "The Fight Life" podcast (h/t Bloody Elbow). "I'm friends with CM Punk. It's been his dream to fight in the UFC forever. He wanted to do it, so I gave him the opportunity. The thing is, when we do fights like this, there's no gimmick fight."
White insisted that Punk's debut is a 'do or die' moment for the professional wrestling legend. With one of the best camps behind him, the 37-year-old will try to prove to everyone that he's better than Gall and capable of winning inside of the Octagon.
"He's fighting a real guy (Gall)," added White. "He's been training hard for a year and a half with Duke Roufus, one of the most respected guys in the business, and they all respect how hard this guy's been working. So there's no gimmick, this is like err, this is do or die. We throw these guys to the wolves, man."
Whether Punk wins or loses, his future in MMA is completely uncertain. His contract is a multi-fight deal, but nobody knows for sure how difficult it has been for Punk to train, cut weight and mentally prepare himself for a fight outside of scripted chest slaps and powerbombs. Tomorrow will determine his future in this sport.
UFC 203 will be headlined by a heavyweight title fight between current champion Stipe Miocic and top contender Alistair Overeem.
Remember, MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 203 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.