Here’s a thing MMA fans and pundits should stop doing: anointing guys from The Ultimate Fighter as the Next Big Thing in the sport.
You don’t find Anderson Silva or Georges St-Pierre or Jon Jones on TUF.
Don’t believe that? Take a look at Uriah Hall and think again.
Take a look at 0-2, high-fives-and-hugs-for-his-opponent Uriah Hall. Too-nice-of-a-guy-to-fight-in-the-UFC Uriah Hall.
He’ll change your opinion pretty quick.
Less than a year ago, the whole MMA world was buzzing with the hype of Hall, a TUF contestant who was causing his housemates to lose sleep over the prospect of having to fight him.
When he debuted, he provided some justification for that fear, putting together a highlight reel to rival any in the history of the program. Violent KOs performed effortlessly were the norm, and Hall waltzed to the finals of the tournament.
There, he was promptly trounced by Kelvin Gastelum, an undersized opponent who has no obvious potential to be a star in his own right. He just came in and outworked Hall, beat him up and took his dream away.
That is, until the UFC saw fit to put Hall on the main card of its FOX Sports 1 debut ahead of proven veteran talents like Brad Pickett, Michael McDonald, Cole Miller, Manny Gamburyan and Mike Brown. Apparently there was still enough cred left over from TUF to warrant that.
And what did Hall do with that opportunity? He hugged opponent John Howard a bunch and high fived him a bunch, opting for short bursts of attempted violence in between wide smiles and an attitude of genuinely just being happy to be there.
Howard, a little grittier but without any of the obvious physical traits and skills of Hall, engaged in the high fives and hugs, but also sustained his own bursts of violence a little longer on his way to a split decision win.
And with that, Uriah Hall was officially a bust.
It’s fascinating and frustrating to watch someone with so much ability squander it, but it happens in every sport. If anything, Hall’s inability to cash in on what he has in the toolbox is a sign that MMA is becoming a true sport—just think of the number of guys on your favourite baseball or football teams you’ve seen waste talent over the years.
For the New York native, now looking at a possible release from the UFC and some serious soul searching, he’s one of those guys. He’s wasting talent, ready to be labelled with the dreaded ‘bust’ tag.
No one would have thought it when he was dropping nobodies in exhibition fights in the Nevada desert, but here we are. Let his story be a cautionary tale on buying into the hype.
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