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Mickey Gall more excited about what's after CM Punk

Rod Mar for ESPN

LAS VEGAS -- It's pretty obvious, Mickey Gall is looking past CM Punk.

When the time comes, probably later this year, Gall will be focused on Punk, a former WWE star. But Gall -- the UFC's version of a lotto winner -- sounds more excited about what happens after that.

"Then my dream really starts," said Gall, who visited Las Vegas to attend the UFC's Fighter Summit last week. "I don't want to be the 'CM Punk guy.' I don't want to be a sideshow-type thing. [After Punk], I get to prove I'm of this caliber. I've been training with UFC guys since I was 16. I know I'm ready and I can't wait to fight the best guys in the world, get into those wars and get those victories."

Gall (2-0) is a 24-year-old welterweight prospect fighting out of New Brunswick, New Jersey. He has been in the headlines since UFC president Dana White pegged him to fight CM Punk, birth name Phil Brooks, in what will be Punk's first MMA fight. Gall made his UFC debut on Feb. 6 and picked up a first-round submission win.

Less than one week after Gall's debut, news broke that Punk, 37, required back surgery and that their fight would be postponed. Gall said he learned of Punk's injury from friends' texts.

"My phone was blowing up with people saying, 'Sorry dude, he's out. Fight's off. Sorry, sorry, sorry,'" Gall said. "My dad called [White], and Dana said, 'Yeah, it's all good. He's only out four to six weeks.'"

Gall admits it's not ideal for a fighter in his position to sit out six months, waiting for an opponent who has never had a professional fight to get healthy. But had he not won the CM Punk sweepstakes, Gall says he'd likely be trying to fight every month on the New Jersey/Pennsylvania fight circuit to earn experience and build his record. So he realizes the obvious promotional opportunity of beating a celebrity in his third pro fight.

And so, for now, Gall will wait.

"I expected I'd have to beat up five, six, seven guys on the local circuit to get [into the UFC]," Gall said. "So, the way I saw it, it would have taken another year until I was here. I've seen guys, one of my buddies who is 30 years old, he still hasn't gotten the call. He's a great fighter, 15-4 [record] and deserves to be here. Some guys get overlooked.

"I'd like to fight, but it's a big opportunity. It's a big name. I'll get fans from that and exposure that will help my career going forward. Although I'm eager and want to say, 'Yeah, I'll take a fight right now,' this is a smart move."

Whether it's directly linked to his situation or just the way he's wired, Gall finds himself in a hurry to face elite competition. He doesn't necessarily view Punk as elite, which is why you get the sense his appetite is already looking one meal ahead.

"I remember watching [MMA] at first and it was kind of scary," Gall said. "I said, 'I don't want to fight these guys.' Now, that's all I want to do. When I was first watching, I hadn't trained at all. But watching fighting, I said, 'This is the ultimate sport. It's the realest.' And that's what I want now. I want to beat big names. Big names make nice trophies."