Mickey Gall and CM Punk: Lessons Learned #UFC203

Mickey Gall’s win on Saturday night was a victory for mixed martial arts despite the frankly laughable circumstances.

The circus surrounding the Punk/Gall fight was unanimously despised by hardcore fans who saw the bout as profoundly unprofessional. And while for Punk’s part, the fight went more or less as expected, the youngster Gall showed just how serious MMA is even at a relatively novice level.

It was quite clear from the beginning of this story that neither of these two had any business being in the UFC. While Gall is undoubtedly a prospect, there is simply no way a 1-0 fighter should be allowed into the sports premier organization. That statement holds even more applicable to an 0-0 fighter without even an amateur fight regardless of fame or clout. That being said, even though this fight should never have been made let alone sanctioned, Gall’s victory proves just how difficult it is to be successful.

CM Punk spent two years (with intermittent breaks due to injury) doing nothing but two-a-days at one of the best gyms in the world. All that effort bore him no fruit, at least for the time being. Punk didn’t land a single strike and was absolutely dominated on the ground.

What’s more is that this type of trouncing is not at all reserved for low-level fighters. Think of the champions and elite level fighters who have lost in under a minute e.g. Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira and Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo. Even extreme prowess and experience isn’t a guarantor of success.

However, the case of Punk is illustrative of an almost inevitability in fighting, one that those who train know intimately well. At some point during the bout while Gall was grappling with Punk, Color Commentator Joe Rogan remarked that this was “a high-level brown belt versus a white belt”. To truly understand just how severe the divide between white and brown belt is you might want to train for a year or two and roll with someone who has almost a decade under their belt. A less time consuming solution would be to take it from me.

HHH was just a little happy.

As a one-stripe white belt, I lose 10 out of 10 exchanges with white belts three stripes or higher. The level of experience these white belts have above me are in the order of a few months. Still, that minutia of experience they possess over me is enough to make my humiliation more or less inevitable. Remember in my case we are only talking about the difference between white belts. When Rogan said the grappling exchange was a white belt against a brown belt, I knew it was absolutely and completely hopeless.

So while Punk could have theoretically landed a lucky shot on the feet or perhaps flailed out of a submission, he was destined to lose on Saturday. His loss showed the average and hardcore fan alike just what a massive discrepancy exits between a white and brown belt, to say nothing of overall MMA prowess. Although the entire situation has left an understandably sour taste in the mouths of those who watch the UFC precisely because of its meritocratic sensibilities, we can at least take solace in the fact that the better man won.

Sadly, this saga doesn’t end here. Punk has repeatedly stated his intention to fight once again and that means the UFC will have to bring in at least one other amateur into the octagon, diluting the sports premier organization even further. Gall too will likely remain in the UFC having made his name off the back of Punk. And although Gall certainly has more reason to occupy the ranks of 170lbs, his next fight, should it come against an experienced opponent, could easily see him inherit the position of Punk, showing the he too has little business mixing with the elite.

However, Gall did call out “Super” Sage Northcutt in his post-fight interview and should the UFC brass indulge him, I actually would favor him in that fight, based principally on his grappling acumen and Northcutt’s lack thereof. Regardless, at least for now we can put this whole mess behind us and enjoy saying, “I told you so” to anyone who thought Punk had a chance.

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