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Dan Hardy declines Mickey Gall’s callout – ‘I don’t want to beat up a kid that I enjoy watching’

After submitting Sage Northcutt at UFC on FOX 22 inside Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., (watch highlights here), Mickey Gall continued his tradition of immediately calling out his next opponent. This time around, Gall asked for a bout against former Welterweight title challenger, Dan Hardy, in a fight that would be contested at Lightweight. “The Outlaw” had a brief and comical response via social media, but during a recent stop on “The MMA Hour,” Hardy respectfully declined the call-out … while Gall was on the other line listening.

He explains:

“I almost spat my tea out, it was like four in morning and I wasn’t expecting it. I appreciate the call-out and I appreciate the respect that you’ve shown me, but I have never fought anybody with less than eight fights, not even in my first pro fight. We are at different phases in our careers. I’m not looking at knocking off a future contender that I’m possibly going to be commentating for in the future. At the same time, if I was going to fight, I want to fight a veteran. I want to fight someone that has had 20 or 30 fights and has matured in their game and is sure of their fighting style, not one that is still developing. I like to see the development of these young fighters and I don’t want to interfere with that in anyway. I’m 10 years older and we are at different phases in our careers.”

After getting shut down, Gall responded by saying that he respected his decision and still considers the British brawler a legend of the sport before hanging up the phone. Hardy proceeded to say that if he does return, he wants to face a long-time veteran who he can really get motivated for.

“It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t appeal to me and I don’t want to beat up a kid that I enjoy watching. There are a lot more older guys out there that have mature in their style and know their capabilities. There are a lot of fighters out there that I would be motivated to fight. And Mickey is a kid, I appreciate where he is in his career, four fights, and he is an exciting future prospect and I don’t want to play a part in the building of his career in any way.”

And that’s that, though Hardy did say he wouldn’t be opposed to a grappling match with the young up-and-comer down the road. Of course, Hardy’s still unsure that he will even return to the cage anytime soon, as he has one final test to go through in January to see if he is able to sustain the rigors of a training camp and a fight after he was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome back in 2013.

But, just a few months ago, “The Outlaw” teased an MMA comeback, declaring that if and when he does return, he’ll be doing it at 155 pounds. It’s a division filled with plenty of battle-tested veterans who can clearly fit “The Outlaw” criteria of a motivating challenge.

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Dan Hardy appreciates Mickey Gall’s callout, but declines: ‘I don’t want to beat up a kid that I’m enjoying watching’

The last thing Dan Hardy expected to hear in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday was a callout from one of UFC on FOX 22′s big winners.

Hardy was watching the event live from the U.K. when co-headliner Mickey Gall submitted Sage Northcutt with a second-round rear-naked choke. Gall then surprised fight fans by asking for a dance date with “The Outlaw.” The moment was especially unexpected considering that Hardy’s last fight was over four years ago, but the Englishman took it all in good fun.

“I almost spat my tea out of my mouth when I was watching it,” Hardy said in a joint interview with Gall on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “It was like four o’clock in the morning when I was watching, and I just wasn’t expecting it. I appreciate the callout. I appreciate the respect that you’ve shown me. But I’ve never fought anybody with less than eight fights, not even in my first pro fight. It’s just, we’re in different phases of our careers.

“I’m not looking at knocking off a future contender that I’m possibly going to commentating for in the future. And at the same time, if I was going to fight, I want to fight a veteran. I want to fight someone who’s had 20, 30 fights, who’s matured in their game and is sure of their fighting style, rather than someone who’s still developing. I like to see the development of these young fighters and I don’t want to interfere with that in any way. I’m 10 years older.”

Gall has made a name for himself for a string of UFC callouts in 2016, starting with his bout against CM Punk and leading into his prime-time tilt against Northcutt. The strategy has paid major dividends for him over the course of the year — his high-profile placement on UFC on FOX 22 despite his relative inexperience is proof of that — but in this case, Gall took his declined invitation in stride.

“He has a right to feel that way,” Gall said to Hardy in response. “I respect that too. That’s cool. You’re a legend. It would’ve been an honor to fight you. That’s cool, man. I love you, Dan.”

Hardy, 34, used to be one of the more popular figures in the UFC welterweight division, however these days he is more of a media figure than an active fighter, working as both an analyst and color commentator under the UFC umbrella.

The switch from a fight life to the one he lives now was forced in 2013, when Hardy was diagnosed with the heart condition Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. That diagnosis forced his hand and made Hardy look elsewhere for opportunities outside the cage, though he has always remained steadfast in his desire to return to professional fighting.

Hardy is actually scheduled to undergo two final days of testing in January to determine once and for all whether fighting is a viable option for him, so in that regard, Hardy understands where Gall was coming from and appreciates the 24-year-old’s willingness to take a chance.

“I think he’s realistic,” Hardy said. “He said in the post-fight press conference that it was a bit of a haymaker, a bit of a wild callout, and I appreciate that. It surprised me, but I appreciate that. It was very respectful of him. I don’t think it was done in bad taste in any way. I wasn’t offended by it. But you know, there’s 100 guys on the UFC roster who would be much better opponents for him right now.

“I don’t want to beat up a kid that I’m enjoying watching,” Hardy added. “There’s a lot of older guys out there who have matured in their style, they know their fighting style, they know their capabilities, and there’s a lot of fighters out there that I would be motivated to fight. And Mickey is a kid. I appreciate where he is in his career. He’s had four fights and he’s an exciting prospect for the future. I don’t want to play a part in that, being a burden in his career in any way.”

Of course, Hardy is also an analyst — and a terrific one at that — so he couldn’t help but play a little fantasy matchmaker of his own.

Gall said this past weekend that Hardy’s title fight against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 111 was the first UFC event he ever attended live. Hardy’s own first UFC event that he attended live was UFC 85, which featured a headlining bout of Thiago Alves vs. Matt Hughes. And so he figured that if Gall was in search of a veteran opponent with a known name, Alves may fit the bill.

“That’d be a great fight for him,” Hardy said of Alves-Gall. “That’d be really fun, if he wants to fight a veteran. A guy struggling to make 155. I think we should introduce a 162 weight class. Have those two guys pioneer that. … 160 is five pounds over lightweight and 10 pounds under welterweight, and I think 162, the extra two pounds, it’s a better meeting ground.

“We need more divisions. We’ve got fighters to make the divisions, there’s no doubt about it. The sport is growing. We’re having more shows every year. There are more places in the world that are producing fighters, that want shows. We need more weight classes. Fifteen pounds is a big jump. If you look at boxing, we’re not close to 15-pound jumps. And we’ve got room. A light welterweight weight class at 162 would be great, maybe add a 178 in as well at some point.”

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Sage Northcutt on Mickey Gall’s UFC foes: ‘It’s almost like fighting someone’s dad’

This is about as close to trash talk as Sage Northcutt is going to get.

The top UFC prospect took some mild shots at Mickey Gall on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani on Monday. Northcutt has not been too impressed with Gall’s UFC opponents, CM Punk and Mike Jackson, since both came in without a pro MMA bout on their record.

“I think just him going in and fighting two guys that had no fights — I think they were both close to 40 years old, too — it’s almost like fighting someone’s dad that only trained very little for a fight,” Northcutt said. “It was definitely interesting if you think of it that way.”

CM Punk, 37, was making his MMA debut after training for the last year and a half at Roufusport following his run as a WWE headliner. Jackson, 31, better known as an MMA photographer and writer, had only pro kickboxing experience coming into the fight with Gall in February. Gall finished both men in the first round with rear-naked choke submissions, Punk at UFC 203 earlier this month.

“CM Punk, that was awesome for him to get out there and have the guts to go out there and fight,” Northcutt said. “Not everybody would do that. … That’s awesome for him. I think everybody kind of expected it to go the way it did.”

After beating Punk, Gall called out Northcutt, saying he wanted to fight him at UFC 205 in New York and making fun of the spikes in his hair. Gall also called Northcutt corny. “Super Sage” said he was watching, but was not offended by Gall’s words.

“He’s talking about my hair — he wants to punch the spikes out of my hair — and looking at that from his fights that I’ve seen and looking at his pictures, his hair kind of looks like mine,” Northcutt said. “It just doesn’t have the hair gel in it, it doesn’t look like. I’m thinking that maybe he should get some hair gel and style it or something.”

Northcutt, 20, did take some umbrage with another part of Gall’s interview: the language he used. Gall dropped a multitude of f-bombs in the post-fight chat with Joe Rogan. Northcutt was not down with that.

“I think a step too far was when he’s cussing and sending the curse words out there,” Northcutt said. “I don’t know. He said that’s how he gets people’s attention, but I don’t know what people’s attention he’s trying to get if he’s cussing out there. Is it the families? The moms? The little kids that are watching? I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem very appropriate.”

Northcutt (8-1) is coming off a unanimous decision win over Enrique Marin at UFC 200 in July. His lone career loss came before that to Bryan Barberena at UFC on FOX 18 in January. That defeat came at 170 pounds, not where Northcutt usually fights at 155. But “Super Sage” said he would fight Gall at his weight class of 170, because going to lightweight is a tough cut for him. He was just ill going into the Barberena fight.

“At the time my body just didn’t heal up and wasn’t feeling right,” Northcutt said. “This time coming around, having more time notice for it and fighting at 170, I should be healthy.”

The Texas native said he’s currently recovering from a second staph infection this year, so he wouldn’t be ready for UFC 205 on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden. Northcutt did say he’d be available to fight Gall in December. And he’d be confident in the outcome.

“All I could say is that I believe I have better grappling than him and better stand up,” Northcutt said. “If I go out there, I can take the fight wherever I want. If I want to go out there and stand up with him and knock him out, I believe i can do that. If I want to take him down and submit him, I believe I can do that also.”

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CM Punk explains why he refused to shake Mickey Gall’s hand at UFC 203 weigh-ins

Mickey Gall extended his hand for a shake, and CM Punk walked right through it.

The two men had an intense staredown during UFC 203 weigh-ins Friday in Cleveland and that’s where it started, with CM Punk refusing to shake Gall’s hand. Gall then started jawing at Punk, saying things the audio did not pick up.

On the FS1 weigh-in show, CM Punk was asked by interview Megan Olivi what Gall said and why didn’t he accept the handshake.

“I don’t know,” Punk said. “He was stuttering. He kept repeating, ‘Oh you don’t want to shake my hand, you don’t want to shake my hand’ or something like that. I’m not here to shake anybody’s hand. I’m here to punch people in the face.”

This is CM Punk’s UFC and MMA debut. The popular former WWE headliner had little to no significant martial arts experience before signing with the UFC in December 2014, but has been working at Roufusport in Milwaukee for about a year and a half. Punk, 37, believes he has improved a lot since first walking in the door. Gall himself is only 2-0 as a pro.

“I think once I had an opponent, once I had a date and once I was free of that damn herniated disc I was walking around with for who knows how long, I was a different person,” said Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks. “It’s one thing to train, it’s another thing to train with a singular purpose and that’s what I got in Mickey Gall. I know this is a difficult sport to master. I look forward to mastering it sometime and I realize that will probably never happen, but I will get as good as I possibly can.”

Punk expressed some exasperation with his weight cut this week, but it seemed like he might have just been trolling MMA fans. He weighed in officially Friday morning right on the nose at 170 pounds. Punk said cutting weight was not fun, but he had coach Duke Roufus and teammates like Anthony Pettis and Erik Koch for advice.

“I’m not gonna say it was easy,” Punk said. “There’s a level of difficulty that goes along with it and I’m a fat kid at heart and I love food and that’s obviously the hardest part.”

All that’s left now is for him to step in the Octagon for the first time.

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