Mickey Gall after winning at UFC Newark

Mickey Gall returned to the win column on Saturday and he, admittedly, had to dig down deep to get it done in his hometown.

Gall defeated a very gritty Salim Touahri at UFC on ESPN 5 in Newark, New Jersey, by unanimous decision in front over “over 200” friends and family members at the Prudential Center, according to the Gracie New Jersey trained fighter. With the raucous crowd that accompanied Gall to the building on Saturday, Gall feels that a return to Madison Square Garden for UFC 244 in November would seem to make all the sense in the world.

Of course, Gall would be looking to right the wrong from his first appearance at Madison Square Garden. He would take on Randy Brown at UFC 217 in November 2017, losing a unanimous decision — the first fight of his professional career that went the distance. Between fan support he would receive, good business for the UFC and getting one back, a return to the Octagon at UFC 244 would be a good combination for all involved.

“MSG would be perfect. I’d like to stay on the East Coast,” Gall told The Body Lock. “You should’ve heard that place. I must’ve had over 200 Jersey animals in that place that I knew personally. After seeing everyone at the after party, may have been 250, maybe 300 people — friends, family and supporters in the state. That place was booming. I think the UFC would definitely want to keep me on the East Coast, keep me in the New York, New Jersey tri-state area. They love me there. They love me in Vegas, but they love me here even more.”

In terms of an opponent he’d like to face, there are two guys at the top of the list: Diego Sanchez and Mike Perry. Following the win over the weekend, Gall had called for a rematch with Sanchez — a fight in which Gall had suffered from kidney failure heading into March’s UFC 235 event. While there are people in the MMA world who feel that Gall may have wasted a callout on Sanchez with the fight being so fresh on everyone’s minds, it was a personal request from the 27-year-old who wants the opportunity to show the first-ever winner of The Ultimate Fighter who he really is.

At the end of the day, Sanchez or not, Gall just wants to continue to grow and gain experience in the Octagon.

“Maybe (the fight could happen), but I don’t care, though,” Gall explained. “If it’s him, great! If it’s not, cool. I just want to stay active. I was tired of hearing everyone talk about that (fight with Sanchez) and like, embarrassed that people think that’s what I actually fight like. That’s what I fight like when I have kidney failure. I get that tired and I let a guy like Diego crawl up me. He can’t crawl up me. I’ll let know one crawl up me and knock me in the head unless my body is shut down.

“I was a little embarrassed from that standpoint so that’s why I wouldn’t mind, not necessarily wiping the slate clean, but just get that one back and see what it would actually look like. But I don’t care, I just want to stay active and it makes no difference to me if he can’t do it.

“Another guy I’d like to fight is Mike Perry. He’s fighting, my brother, Vicente Luque this week, so he’s tied up. Maybe we could do something.”

A new contender seems to have emerged in the Mickey Gall next-fight sweepstakes, Erik Koch, coming off of his win over Kyle Stewart at UFC 240. It was Koch’s first fight in the welterweight division, and first UFC win in over three years. Koch tweeted that UFC 244 in November at Madison Square Garden sounds like a great idea and a fun fight for the fans, with all due respect.

Gall is “absolutely” down for that fight as well, or any other fight the UFC would want to present. As he continues to learn and get more Octagon experience, Gall feels that he has been seeing things in front of him a lot better, learning patience and just loving the competitive nature of mixed martial arts. The New Jersey native felt he got to show that in full force in a fight where he had to dig deep against Touahri.

“I’ve really been focusing on my patience, and not just attack, you know,” Gall explained. I was willing to wait in that fight with Salim and it’s just another example of a young fighter like myself growing in this sport. It’s a weird thing in there. It’s a whole other dynamic. People can’t really understand it but I love it, I’m having so much fun with it. I can’t wait to do it again.

“I was a little tired, but I was having fun testing myself as an athlete. A lot of my other fights were more like stressed, ‘get it done!’, but that one, yeah, I had more time to settle in and it was the most important one for my growth as a fighter.”

As happy as Gall was to get his fifth win in the UFC, he is well aware that he has a long way to go. It was the first fight of Gall’s career that he won that went to the judges’ scorecards and it was certainly a learning experience. It will be one of many for the, only, eight-fight professional as he continues to put the pieces together.

“I made a lot of mistakes,” Gall said. “There was a lot of sloppiness, especially (in the first round) with my dealings on his back. When I get there, I should be able to put people away — whether it’s standing (or on the ground) — and I had some other moves that I was working on in this camp, but I just stuck with one that was working for me in the camp, but didn’t work when I tried it two or three times in the fight. I’m learning from it. I’ll be more mindful of that next time and make sure I string my moves together better. I don’t think I did myself justice from the back. He was very tough and had a unique plan on how to thwart my back attempts and takes. I should’ve done more. I could’ve done more.

“I definitely was able to show some more and put a lot more out there. I still think watching the replay… and don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the fight, but I thought I looked sloppy there, too. I’m taking a week off, but I’m excited to get back to work. I’m feeling very driven but my mind is going. I was out on a boat and I was thinking about mixing up different combinations. My mind is going. I’m obsessed. I’m hungrier than ever.”

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