It was a belated birthday gift, but a little over a week after turning 30, Mickey Gall treated himself to a one-way ticket from New Jersey to Florida.
“I thought maybe I'll do a week, maybe two or three, maybe all of camp,” he said of his work trip to Sanford MMA to prep for his UFC 273 bout against Mike Malott. “And then in two days of training here, I was like, I gotta move here. I felt like I'd be doing myself a disservice going back to Jersey and rocking the way I have.”
That was some 30th birthday.
“I realized I was kind of forcing things at home and I had a lot of weight on my shoulders,” Gall said of his decision to shake things up after a December loss to Alex Morono. “I had to put a lot of stuff together, bring guys around me to get sufficient training and set the schedule and do a lot. I wanted to make my home gym, Gracie New Jersey. the powerhouse that I know it could be with all the badasses in Jersey. And I guess out of loyalty and out of my own pride, I wanted to do that.”
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But at a certain point, Gall had to do what was best for himself and his career, and that was a notion that his longtime coach David Adiv was on board with.
“This is gonna be the first fight without him in my corner and I wouldn't have done it without his blessing,” Gall said. “He (Adiv) said, ‘You do what's gonna win you this fight. I know your heart, and this changes nothing between us.’ That meant a lot. And I know his heart, and we're family. That's my second dad.”
And just like Springsteen or Frankie Edgar, Gall has been synonymous with the Garden State, and he continues to rep it proudly. But as soon as he settled into life in Florida, he was all in.
“How much time ya got,” he laughed when asked how he’s been adjusting to his new digs in Pompano Beach. “I've adjusted great. There's a lot of New Jersey, New Yorkers, Bostonians down here.
Gall has even started his own podcast – The MGGM Show - with buddy Gerard Michaels. But all good weather and podcasting aside, the reason for the move was the training, and with Henri Hooft and company, he’s getting plenty of it.
“Coming to Sanford, the environment, the coaches, the cohesive unit the coaches have and the way they create the structure, all the great training partners, no easy rounds on the mat, all the UFC and Bellator studs I'm training with and all the great, world-class coaches, I'm just so happy,” he said. “I feel like I'm in the right place and I'm leveling up every day. I think it's the best move for my career.”
That next chapter of his career will be a home game of sorts, even if it is a nearly five-hour drive, but home or not, Gall will get to hear the roar of the crowd at Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena for the first time since his August 2019 win over Salim Touahri in Newark, New Jersey.
“I like the roar of the crowd, I like to be a showman and I feed off that energy,” he said. “I enjoyed it when I was fighting without a crowd, too, for different reasons, but I'm gonna be real happy to hear them and feel that energy and really step into the gladiator pit. That's what it's all about. That's when it's gonna feel really like home. It's different. The other one's almost like a glorified sparring session when this is the real deal - step inside that gladiator pit, hear the roar of the crowd, they want to see blood, and I want to give them blood.”
It's an experience unlike any other if you’re a prizefighter, and Gall knows those emotions and feelings better than most considering that 10 of his 11 pro bouts have been in the UFC. That’s something not many can claim, and Gall believes it’s an edge Malott will find out about soon enough.
“People have watched my whole development in the UFC,” he said. “I know kids on the regional scene probably watched me and said, 'Gall, I'd kick his ass.' They talk tough in front of their friends, but when they come and they see me in the gym, they get shook up. I came up in this nuclear terrarium that is the UFC. All my losses, I took them in front of the world, so I had to come up and develop faster. So some of these kids might think they're getting one thing and then they get something else. I've seen countless guys in the training room who I know felt one type of way, and then when they finish the session with me, they feel a whole different type of way. They can barely talk. And I think that's what it's gonna be like for this kid. Maybe he thinks this is sweet and he's gonna find out it's not - it's hard, it's dirty and it's gonna f**k you up.”
Those are fighting words, but don’t take Gall’s game face for a newly-minted 30-year-old who’s angry at the universe. It’s quite the opposite.
“I'm happy and I'm recharged,” he said. “I never lost my purpose or my way, but it's just all reignited and the flame is burning hotter than ever.”
UFC 273: Volkanovski vs The Korean Zombie took place on Saturday, April 9, 2022, live from a sold out VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!