At a glance, Gall’s matchup with Diego Sanchez couldn’t have been a better showcase for him. A veteran opponent with a respected name, one that Gall himself had called out months earlier. The bright lights of Las Vegas. And what looked to be an opportunity for Gall to dominate given his size advantage, high-level grappling, and relative youth.
The actual fight couldn’t have gone worse for Gall.
Sanchez, as he has throughout his 29-fight UFC career, pushed the pace and Gall appeared to have no answer for the “Nightmare”. Gall was overwhelmed and eventually succumbed to TKO via ground-and-pound near the end of round two.
He later took to social media to apologize for his performance and mention that he had passed out during his weight cut:
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I gassed hard in there. Had an adrenaline dump. I passed out during the weight cut and my body shut down in the first round. I’m sorry to my friends family and fans. Send love to @diegonightmaresanchezufc he’s a true legend. This was a nightmare come true for me. I promise I’ll be back soon and better
On Monday, Gall appeared on The MMA Hour and he told host Luke Thomas that his problems extended beyond just a brief fainting spell.
“My kidneys were failing,” Gall said. “Before the fight, I didn’t really know. I could feel — I guess, looking back you could tell a couple of warning signs, like something was going on, but I didn’t go to the fight thinking, ‘F*ck it, whatever, it’s just kidneys.’ I really didn’t know.
“But then when I got in the fight, I was zapped right away. I was zapped. I re-watched the fight, I’m like in slow motion. I remember struggling for balance, just trying to stay on my feet. It was crazy.”
Gall described himself as having “phantom” pain during his walk to the Octagon, a sensation that still wasn’t enough to convince him that anything was wrong. It wasn’t until he found himself struggling to initiate any offense against Sanchez that he started to become frustrated and question himself.
Outside of fainting, Gall doesn’t recall having a particularly difficult weight cut nor does he feel that he overtrained for UFC 235. His bout was the first on the ESPN preliminary card and afterwards Gall felt well enough to stick around and watch the fights. However, he was later taken to the hospital and diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a condition that can lead to muscle breakdown and kidney failure.
“I did have rhabdo, but they also think it was like a perfect storm of drops in the bucket that made this happen,” Gall said. “My stomach was a little off for fight week, I had some diarrhea when I was supposed to be cutting weight. And then I did the weight cut — this weight cut was way easier than my last one. I believe sometimes you’ve got to just put the pain in and get through the weight cut. It wasn’t really necessary, I was singing, having a good time, got the weight off.
“At one point I did, when I stood up, I passed out. Which I didn’t think — at the time, I was like, ‘I don’t know, sometimes people pass out, I guess.’ It was easy to write it off, all the warning signs. Not my stomach or my back or my kidneys, like you don’t know what a kidney feeling weird really is like.”
Gall believes the usual excitement and emotions surrounding a fight may have also played a part in allowing him to ignore any troubling symptoms. The most distinct warning sign he can recall is the feeling of vibrations on his lower back, like someone playing an instrument on it. He also had trouble digesting food and the vibrations later became “constant, aching, cramping, sharp pains.”
His team also had Gall taking creatine throughout the day after the weigh-ins in an attempt to aid in his recovery from the cut. It’s not clear exactly what caused Gall’s body to short-circuit on fight night, but in the future he plans to do a better job of monitoring his health and making sure to check in with physicians during his fight camps.
“In hindsight, yeah maybe, I would have said something to the doctors to at least try and get my levels a little better,” Gall said. “But hindsight is 20/20. At the point, here it is, we’re there. I guess the excitement of making the weight and then the adrenaline of fight day, I didn’t know anything was wrong. I didn’t know for sure that anything was wrong.”
His first visit to the hospital behind him, Gall expects to return to training in one or two weeks and doesn’t think that his kidney scare will be an issue going forward. He’s ready to move on from the Sanchez debacle and he’s open to whoever the UFC has next for him.
“I’m fine. I’m lucky. Everything’s fine, I love this life,” Gall said. “I’m really, really pissed and disappointed the way the fight went. I couldn’t represent and show all my skills, but I’m grateful for this. I’m going to get an opportunity to do it again soon. I love this f*cking game. I love this shit.”