Preview: UFC 302 Prelims – Hafez vs. Gall


Hafez (8-4-1, 0-1 UFC) vs. Mickey Gall
(7-5, 6-5 UFC)

ODDS: Hafez (-325), Gall (+260)

Gall’s return after a two-year layoff is a pleasant surprise, as
the New Jersey native has turned himself into a solid fighter who’s
better than his reputation would likely suggest. Gall’s still
probably best known for his 2016, where he got the nod to welcome
Brooks to the UFC and beat him handily, then followed with a
submission win over Sage
Northcutt. After that, the UFC didn’t seemingly have much of an
idea on how to capitalize on that momentum, given that Gall was
still one of the rawest fighters on the roster. Over the years,
Gall has traded wins and losses as a standout grappler who has
developed a decent striking game but never found the elite
athleticism to entirely control a fight. There are times when
stronger athletes can just find takedowns and pin him to the mat,
and Gall’s last outing in 2022 saw him get knocked out by Mike Malott.
Still, Gall’s a solid litmus test to see which opponents belong on
the UFC roster, and it will be interesting to see how Hafez fares
after an impressive UFC debut.

Order Now! UFC 302 “Makhachev vs. Poirier” Saturday at 10
p.m. ET on ESPN+

Hafez had a solid if unspectacular regional record before a big
last-minute opportunity against rising contender Jack
Della Maddalena fell into his lap in July. It looked like an
unwinnable fight for Hafez on paper and probably should have been
in practice, but he managed to overachieve and earn a split
decision loss, mostly through pursuing takedowns and luring Della
Maddalena into some poor grappling decisions. Gall is the more
consistent fighter, but Hafez has a clear horsepower advantage that
should make this interesting. Hafez could sting Gall or wind up as
another opponent who can overpower and outwrestle him. With that
said, Hafez hasn’t been an overwhelming grappler in the past and
could just as easily find himself in Gall’s wheelhouse if he takes
things to the mat. Hafez finding a finish wouldn’t be a shock, but
Gall is an underrated fighter. Plus, Hafez has tended to tire if
forced to fight at a high pace for a long stretch of time, so the
call is that the New Jersey native can grind out a hometown win
here. The pick is Gall via decision.

Jump To »
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