Uriah Hall: Middleweight’s Cinderella Man
By Jack Maher
To say that Uriah Hall’s UFC journey has had its ups and downs would be putting it mildly.
Ever the unpredictable, you would be hard pressed to find someone who foresaw him only reaching his peak in 2021
Bursting on to the scene in season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter, the middleweight looked set to become one of the greatest prospects to ever emerge from the reality show. A chilling spinning hook kick KO over Adam Cella sent shockwaves through the MMA community, and Hall was being talked up as the show’s winner before it had reached the quarter finals.
He would reach the final of the tournament, but he would come unstuck against Kelvin Gastelum at the final hurdle. The loss doesn’t seem significant now everyone is familiar with Gastelum’s talents, but at the time the loss felt like a big shock considering what Hall was being talked up for.
The Jamaican was handed another role of the dice after his failure to win in the final. Four months later Hall was paired with John Howard, being given another chance to make good on his obvious potential.
Unfortunately, Hall froze again, losing a second consecutive fight on the scorecards, looking like a shell of the man who’d just blazed through the early stages of TUF.
Eventually ‘Prime Time’ would start to put together some wins, but constantly locked in a battle of one step forward and one step back, middleweight’s next great hope had become a cautionary tale.
With the lows did come some highs as Hall always seemed to do enough to keep his head above water and reignite the ‘what if’ conversations. A highlight reel KO over Gegard Mousasi in Japan, as well as an impressive come from behind finish over Krzysztof Jotko to break up a losing streak were both notable feathers in the cap, although both fights were subsequently followed by a loss.
The now-veteran is currently on the best run of his UFC career, at least on paper. While he has climbed up the rankings, the nature of some of his wins still leaves some questions to be answered.
Hall’s last fight, a rematch with former middleweight champion Chris Weidman, was called to a halt less than 20 seconds in after the 36-year-old checked a leg kick from Weidman, causing a sickening break in the right leg of ‘All American’ and bringing what was an intriguing matchup to a disappointing end.
Prior to Weidman, Hall was assigned Anderson Silva, on one hand it was a big matchup against a legend of the sport, but on the other it felt like a cruel joke, after a bout with Silva was originally talked up while Hall was campaigning on TUF, the fight would only materialise years after the Brazilian’s prime. Nevertheless, Hall got the job done.
Despite his recent run of success, the UFC seem reluctant to re-join the hype train of the #8 ranked middleweight. Even on a four fight win streak, Hall’s opponent on Saturday, Sean Strickland, is a step down in the rankings, making this a real crossroads fight. Either ‘Tarzan’ extends his unbeaten run at 185lbs and adds a big name to his resume, or Hall extends what is already the longest winning streak of his career and carries on his unlikely push to the top. #UFCVEGAS33 #UFC
Photo Credit: Zuffa Ltd