Last Saturday on the main card UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen, Ultimate Fighter 17 finalist Uriah Hall faced John Howard in a three fight loosing effort, falling to Howard in a disappointing split decision loss.
It was certainly a bitter loss for Hall who is now 0-2 in his last two fights including his TUF Finale match against winner Kevin Gastelum. However, if you look closely at both matches, both bare remarkable similarities. Both matches ended in close judges calls that went against Hall. The most shocking similarity about both fights though is that both fights featured a Uriah Hall who was nowhere near the caliber fighter we saw on the Ultimate Fighter.
During his stint in the Ultimate Fighter House, Hall established himself as not only the favorite but a finalist as well. There are often hopefuls in the early episodes of the show that seem like they probably will win it all, but sometimes fall through for some reason or another. So for a fighter to actually show promise and pull through with it right until the end of the finale is still impressive because in MMA, anything can happen.
In fact not only did Hall manage to win all of his matches, but he did so in impressive fashion, practically mauling all of his opponents on the way. He also managed to score the Knockout of the Season against Adam Cella (causing a scary moment where Cella had difficulty breathing) and drawing a statement from coach Chael Sonnen that Hall could beat anyone at middleweight, including then champ Anderson Silva whom Sonnen refered to as “that puke.”
The big question now is: why is a man who dominated all of his opponents in the house in impressive fashion, under performing in such a poor manner now, that he’s actually in the UFC? Considering he’s a two time Ring of Combat Middleweight Champion, he’d be used to fighting in front of an audience.
The answer can actually be explained by Hall himself who admit during the season in one interview that he can be mentally weak. That means that there are a variety of factors that can throw him off from being the fighter he was in the house to the fighter he’s been in the Octagon. One of those actors can actually be the Octagon itself.
When a fighter steps into the cage of a regional promotion or even in the Octagon in the UFC Training Center, it’s a much smaller controlled environment that someone can easily deal with mentally. However, the Octagon in actual UFC events is a completely different environment with thousands of fans screaming at you and a big screen hanging over your head with lots of blaring lights.
If someone isn’t accustomed to such an environment and has a tendency to be mentally weak, it’s very easy to be thrown off by all the added distractions and fall off one’s game plan to the point they aren’t the fighter they usually are.
For Hall, he needs to develop a sense of urgency to not only overcome that mental weakness, but win his next fight if he hopes to stay in the UFC, let alone become the fighter who can maul opponents in a fashion similar to his TUF matches. Typically most fighters get three chances to prove themselves in the Octagon, if even that, and they’re looking for a new job otherwise.
With Hall already 0-2 in the UFC, he needs to win or else he’ll just become another name on the show that faded into anonymity.
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