(Shogun vs. Sonnen/Dana White media scrum video, via KarynBryant.)
Uriah Hall isn’t the first TUF finalist to terrify his housemates and then fall apart as soon as a paying crowd is watching him. Remember when Vinny Magalhaes was (allegedly) the second coming of Royce Gracie? Or when TUF 8‘s lightweight finalist Phillipe Nover was supposed to be the next Anderson Silva? And when was the last time you heard the name “Tommy Speer“?
After two official fights in the Octagon, it’s looking like Hall may join the ranks of TUF‘s all-time greatest flashes-in-the-pan. Just ask UFC president Dana White, who verbally buried Hall following his decision loss to John Howard at UFC Fight Night 26, saying that Hall simply doesn’t have the mentality to be a fighter:
“I love Uriah Hall. I have a great relationship with this kid. He’s one of the nicest human beings you can ever meet. He’s not a fighter, man…If I could take Brad Pickett‘s brain and heart and put it inside Uriah Hall’s body, holy shit there’d be some damage done. Because Uriah Hall has all the physical attributes to be amazing. He’s got speed, he’s got power…he’s just unbelievable. He doesn’t have what it mentally takes to fight here. You know what I mean?
“That was the high-five competition. Listen, you’re a nice guy, I get it. We’re not here to fuckin’ high five, we’re not here to shake hands. You can do all that shit when the fight’s over. You’re here to fight.”
White wasn’t prepared to make any decisions about Hall’s future so soon after the fight, but later on during the media scrum, he dumped more hate on the affectionate nature of Howard vs. Hall (skip to the 6:50 mark of the vid):
“[Howard] usually doesn’t fight that way. That’s not how he fights. It’s like, Uriah’s so nice, that he makes the other guy really nice. ‘This is a really nice guy, I really get the feeling that this guy doesn’t want to punch me in the face or do me any harm. I’ll high-five him. We’re both getting paid tonight, let’s just high five for three rounds if that’s what we’re gonna do.’ You know what I mean? You’ve seen that before, you’ve seen when guys get into that whole high-fiving thing and they kinda get…you’re in a fight. You’re here to use your martial arts to win this competition and move forward. You’re not here to high five and hug.
“That’s great, one of the things I love about this sport is the sportsmanship that is displayed sometimes before, during, and after a fight. But it gets to a point where it gets ridiculous. And that’s not what people are sitting home to watch, that’s not what people paid to come into this building to watch, two guys hug and high five for fifteen minutes.
“It’s a mental thing. He was this killer on TUF, and then he comes into the big show where it really matters and this is going to make your livelihood and everything else, and he turns into this different person — this super nice guy. He was telling me after the Kelvin [Gastelum] fight, he’s like, ‘You know, I just really like him, he’s a really nice guy.’ OK, well that really nice guy just took every fucking thing you ever wanted. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? Do you get that? Does that make sense to you? And I guess it doesn’t make sense to him.”
We didn’t appreciate all the lovey-doveyness during Howard/Hall either, but you have to admit — the match contained more “Oh shit, what if that landed??” moments than any other fight in UFC history. So what do you think of Dana’s assessment? Does Uriah Hall run into a mental block when the pressure’s on? Does he lack a true killer instinct? Or do his tricks simply not work against higher-level opponents?