Usually when you ask a mixed martial artist competing on The Ultimate Fighter about the origins of their training, they will tell you about their first fight in school or their first lesson in karate. Or they speak of being influenced by having watched some of the early UFC cards.
“I would train myself, I would watch the movies, I would rewind it, and I would practice it," Hall said. "I would do it over and over until I slowly picked up on it. I just remember the first time going to class. I would kick and they were like 'holy crap where did you learn to do that.' I said I never trained before. I felt so embarrassed to say I studied video games and I watch movies and do kicks.”
His highlight-reel spinning wheel kick on this week's episode of TUF was certainly comparable to Tekken, rendering his opponent Adam Cella unconscious for several minutes. Hall is clearly a favorite to make it to the final of this season of TUF. His athletic skill and physical attributes stand above many of the contestants. But he said it was his mental side that needed the most help, and although he originally wanted to be picked for Team Jones, being on Team Sonnen helped him more.
“Everything happens for a reason. Being on the opposite team I think that what Chael taught me is something that Jones could not have taught me," Hall admitted. "Jones could teach me something physical, but Chael got into my head and that was something I definitely needed.”
Hall spoke about Chael helping with his belief in his wrestling ability.
“I felt a lot more confident to go in there, to just wrestle, and not be afraid to go wrestle because that was pretty much a big part of my fear as a striker, to be taken down," admitted Hall. "Again the confidence level that I've gone to just working with Chael—I just feel pretty comfortable going with any wrestler and going in the ring and not being afraid of getting taken down."
Hall is 7-2 as a professional and has fought the majority of his fights in the Ring of Combat regional promotion in Atlantic City, NJ. Ring of Combat has been around for 10 years and has spawned a high number of talent now currently fighting on the UFC and Bellator rosters—including Eddie Alvarez, Frankie Edgar, Jim Miller, Kurt Pellegrino, Costa Philippou and Chris Weidman. The latter two current UFC middleweights are responsible for Hall's two losses. With so many fighters coming from that promotion, Hall could've stuck it out, but he chose TUF on a whim after receiving message about the tryouts.
“At one point I had my shot and at that time maybe I was a stepping stone for those two guys, Chris Weidman and Costa Phillipou," Hall explained. "I know myself as a fighter. And I just know that—that was myself—at that point. I’m sure somewhere down the line in the future, I will compete against those guys again. It’s been a journey, and the funny thing about it is, it’s just beginning.”
It seems Hall's confidence and physical talent are starting to reach equal levels. Even a KO better than the one over Cella is possible. One from Hall's favorite Van Damme movie, Kickboxer.
"That freaking jump split kick. I’m almost right on the button with that," Hall exclaimed in belief he could pull it off. "I just have to work on it a little more. I’m still learning how to do that kick.”