Cleat Geeks

The Mental Game of MMA


UFC Fighter Uriah “Prime Time” Hall

As the new season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF 22) is set to begin, MMA fans wonder “Who will be the next big name to arrive in the Octagon?”. There once existed a name in the middleweight division that frightened even the most accomplished veteran. That legend of Anderson Silva is very well documented. The once believed unbeatable 185 lb champ has since fallen. He was the UFC’s version of Fedor Emelianenko. The unstoppable, fairy tale phenom that could not be defeated by Chael Sonnen, which sparked his legacy as well as a documentary. Silva has masterfully secured a record of 16-2-1 with the promotion, and was a problem in the division for eight years.  The solution has since arrived in the form of Chris Weidman (on two separate occasions), but Dana White once believed Weidman’s title would be held by former TUF contestant Uriah Hall.

One look at Uriah Hall, and you would see the prototypical physique of a martial artist. In Uriah’s time spent on the popular reality show, it was obvious early that Chael Sonnen’s second pick as coach opposite Jon Jones, was going to be something special. After opening the show with a decision win over Andy Enz, Hall went on to have one of the most memorable fights in UFC history when he took on Adam Cella (now with Bellator). Hall threw a spinning back kick directly to the side of Cella’s face, that connected cleanly. Cella dropped so quickly that Hall immediately knew that he had taken the fight out of him. For some it would be gruesome to watch, and for others, it was a beautiful display of an artistic dance we know as “the fight”.

What you might not expect, is that Hall himself found it to be a bit disturbing. As Adam lay unconscious for four entire minutes, Hall feared that he had just ended a man’s career, or possibly even his life. Thankfully Cella regained consciousness and would go on to be friends with Hall despite the harsh awakening that this level of combat sports sometimes renders. At that time, it looked like Hall was going to easily continue his winning ways, and win his season of The Ultimate Fighter. As fans of the show know, this was not what transpired.

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 13:   (R-L) Kelvin Gastelum punches Uriah Hall in their middleweight fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center  on April 13, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Uriah would go on to face heavy underdog Kelvin Gastelum in a fight that he appeared to lose as early as the first round. It wasn’t that Gastelum overpowered Hall, it was like Hall wasn’t even trying. To everyone’s amazement Kelvin took an “easy” split-decision away from what was possibly the easiest bet to win the show since Michael Bisping or Rashad Evans. After the high-profile end to the season, Uriah admitted that he didn’t want to hurt a friend, even for a UFC contract. Even though this seems like the most ludicrous thing a fighter has ever said, it gave us a moment to see inside the mind of someone who was the farthest thing from prototypical the sport had ever seen.

UF22PosterFollowing another loss by Hall, the UFC nearly cut the fighter, which ultimately ignited the fire that everyone thought was lost. The Jamaican born fighter would go on to win three fights in a row, including a scrap that sent a pioneer of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter; Chris Leben, into retirement. Uriah Hall still seems to be figuring everything out in his young career, which all started with a shot on a reality TV show. This season will feature two completely diverse coaches. Team Alpha Male fighter Keselowski Urijah Faber will try to keep his cool when he coaches against electric Irishman Conor McGregor. It is difficult to get into the minds of these athletes, but this series gives us a glimpse into the psyche of what makes these guys who they are. The days of the Kimbo Slice street fight, or the Tank Abbot bar fighter style are over. You can only get so far when you lose all technique and resort to swinging with your emotion in the cage. Uriah Hall’s patience and resolve may prove to be the very insight that all other fighters lack, but only time will tell in this sport that carries one of the biggest revolving doors in sports.

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