Mike Jackson's UFC run has been many things, but perhaps the easiest way to describe it is unique.
The journalist and burgeoning prize fighter was selected to face Mickey Gall at UFC Fight Night 82. According to public promises before the fight, Gall would face pro wrestler turned fighter CM Punk if he won. As for Jackson, no such promises were made.
It all doesn't matter in the end as Jackson was submitted just 45 seconds into the first round in their bout. As Jackson told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour, there are probably some things he could've done differently that would've lead to more favorable outcomes, but they didn't happen. And since they didn't, why worry about them?
"There were a lot of what ifs," Jackson admitted. "I'm the type of person who doesn't like to dwell on the past, so to speak. Even today, I woke up, I'm thinking about it. What could've happened if maybe I'd have circled a different way or threw this combo. But again, it's the past. I can't live in the past. I have to move forward from there and try to do something better now."
One of the lingering questions is what would've happened had Jackson defeated Gall? After all, Gall was promised opportunity and Jackson was not. Could he have gotten the chance against Punk had he emerged victorious?
"I had planned on calling out Punk and doing all these things in the Octagon after, but once it was said and done, I didn't get win. I figured, 'Why do I even care?'
"I looked at this whole situation as a win-win for me," he continued. "Obviously a win in the fight would've been the extra bonus incentive, but this whole thing was a win-win. I have no regrets about it. Obviously I would've loved to have gotten the win and to have faced CM Punk, but it is what it is. No regrets at all. I'm happy to be where I am. It seems like I'm getting a lot of positive feedback on social media. The followers continue to climb on Twitter and Instagram. The likes are coming in on Facebook, so it's fun, man. I'm enjoying all of it."
Jackson said he hasn't been released yet from the UFC, but noted a release is probably imminent. Jackson isn't delusional about where his ability is or why he was brought in. That doesn't mean he wouldn't take another UFC bout if offered one, but said another opportunity is unlikely.
"Some people are calling for me to fight other guys. Look, if they can get me in there with someone like Artem [Lobov] or someone like that type of fighter, yeah, I'm happy to come back and put on a great show," Jackson claimed. "Outside of people like that, look, I'm going to go back to boxing and kickboxing. I'll fight on local, smaller MMA shows, Legacy and thing like that.
And why would he take a fight with Lobov, but perhaps not others?
"Dude, he's a brawler," Jackson said. "I love those kinds of fights."
The question remains how Punk will look, generally, and do against Gall, specifically. For Jackson, there isn't even a shred of doubt. Gall may be early into his career, but Jackson argued his one-time foe is going to roll over the former WWE celebrity.
"I think Mickey takes him out in the first round. I think it's a first-round finish for Mickey. Look, Phil [Brooks], he can train with these guys for as long as possible. The wear and tear he's had on his body from professional wrestling, I just don't see him advancing. There are people like BJ Penn who's coming out who received their black belt in three years, things like that. I don't see him as being that type of athlete and definitely doesn't have that type of fighter IQ.
"I don't believe in lucky punches and things like that, but that's all he really has is a puncher's chance to close his eyes and to throw a wild shot. I don't see him being able to take Mickey down and submit him. Especially on the hands, his striking is horrible."
Jackson noted he has no animosity towards Gall. More importantly, he predicted big things for the rising fighter. Jackson was unwilling to make any long-term predictions about Gall's future, but said if he's booked the right way and given time to improve, the sky is the limit.
"He's young," Jackson observed. "He's only 23. He has a bright future ahead of him. As long as he's sort of brought up the correct way. He's not going out and calling out top 10, top 15 guys. He's brought along the proper way. He comes in here, he defeats Punk. You're going to have to give him someone with not a lot of fights. Maybe four fights, five fights, someone early on. Or maybe someone on the outs, getting ready to get cut by UFC that has maybe one or two fights left.
"As long as he stays mentally sharp, he continues to hone his skills and doesn't get too ahead of himself by trying to get these bigger names and bigger fights, then I feel he does well and he has a bright future."