Bassil Hafez eager to ‘beat the sh*t out of’ Mickey Gall at UFC 302, show he’s better than debut loss

Bassil Hafez thinks Mickey Gall has been given the “easy” path in his MMA career, and admits that fuels him with motivation going into their UFC 302 matchup.

Hafez (8-4-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) will take on Gall (7-5 MMA, 6-5 UFC) in a welterweight bout on the June 1 card at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (pay-per-view, ESPN2, ESPN). It will be Hafez’s sophomore appearance with the promotion after he pushed title contender Jack Della Maddalena to a split decision loss in his short-notice debut at UFC on ESPN 49 in July.

The contrasts between Hafez and Gall’s path to the octagon is stark. They made their professional debuts less than two months apart from one another, but it only took Gall one fight to make the UFC as he put himself in the infamous CM Punk sweepstakes in 2016 when the professional wrestling star transitioned to MMA.

Gall has been fighting in the UFC ever since, while Hafez competed 12 times before getting the call for a short-notice opportunity.

“He’s personally someone I really want to beat the sh*t out of,” Hafez told MMA Junkie Radio. “I’m a little bit – not envious – but his path was a lot easier. My path was a lot harder. He’s a tough fighter. Everyone in the UFC is a tough fighter. But there’s going to be guys that are easier than others to face. I just faced who I think is the best, if not one of the best fighters in my division. That’s a feather in my cap that he couldn’t knock me out. It gives me confidence to go in there and really be ready for battle.

“Whether it’s on the ground, whether it’s wrestling or striking – I’m excited to test myself against Mickey and show that I’m the much better fighter than him, and I deserve to be there more than him. That’s my goal is to make it unanimous. Make it a dominant victory.”

Hafez, 32, proved he’s UFC caliber in his debut when he surpassed expectations by nearly beating Della Maddalena, who is No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie welterweight rankings. With a full camp and added confidence under his belt, he promised his performance will be “night and day” from the first time around.

He thinks the matchup with Gall is well suited to him, too, mainly because it’s not the first time they’ve met in a competitive setting.

Hafez said he defeated Gall in a grappling match more than a decade ago, and he intends to do it again in MMA.

“I don’t really look at him as a tricky fighter,” Hafez said. “I look at him as a fighter with a lot of holes in his game that I’m looking to expose. Overall, he has good grappling. I think his wrestling is OK. His striking is OK. I actually beat him in a Grappler’s Quest bout about 11 years ago for the Absolute Championship belt. I got the picture of me with belt and him standing there in second place sulking. So I feel much more confident in my grappling versus his. I feel that I’m better than him everywhere.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie