Uriah Hall is the best prospect to ever emerge from any of The Ultimate Fighter's 17 seasons. He's equal parts talent and determination. It also doesn't hurt that Hall's got more killer instinct than an executioner.
It's hard to argue with that, considering both of Hall's fights on the show ended with his opponents in the back of an ambulance.
Most recently, Hall systematically dispatched Team Jones member Robert "Bubba" McDaniel in the quarterfinals of the TUF tournament. The fight lasted a mere nine seconds. Hall connected with a well-timed short right that not only put Bubba to the canvas, but also broke his face in three different places.
The swift and violent victory led TUF coach Chael Sonnen to boldly state that he believed Hall was a title contender in the middleweight division. That's high praise coming from a fighter who challenged for that belt on two separate occasions.
In the past, Sonnen has been known to speak in hyperboles, but in his role as a TUF coach he's been very realistic in tapering fighter expectations. So when Sonnen says Hall is a contender, it's safe to assume that "The American Gangster" isn't just blowing smoke: Uriah Hall is the real deal.
Someone else who thinks quite highly of Hall is current No. 1 middleweight contender Chris Weidman, who takes on Anderson Silva at UFC 162. He decided to bring Hall in to help emulate the champ's style during training camp. In an appearance on Chokes and Jokes, Weidman said plainly why he thought Hall was a good analog for Silva:
[Uriah Hall] is another guy, if you stand there with him, he's going to kick your head off. It has to be the same strategy. You move forward, you punch him and go for takedowns.
Weidman should know this firsthand, since he's already been in the cage with Hall and defeated him at Ring of Combat 31 back in 2010. Hall's other professional loss came against UFC top-10 middleweight and feared-striker Costa Philippou. After the back-to-back losses, Hall rattled off three straight wins before joining TUF and beginning his reign of destruction.
While Hall's wins on the show have been beyond impressive, it may be easy to write them off as not being an accurate representation of his ability. One of the big complaints about The Ultimate Fighter series has been that the competition is pretty average with a majority of TUF alums fizzling out in the UFC. However, that is hardly the case this season; both teams are stacked with quality fighters.
Can you seriously remember another season of the show that's had so many highlight-reel finishes?
With that said, Hall has mowed through every guy put in front of him and has looked better and more confident in each outing. This alone has gone a long way in establishing him as a fighter whose name can sell tickets. That marketability is vitally important to securing that title shot down the road.
The biggest component to his success will be his training. Hall already has a great work ethic, but it is imperative that he find the right team to train with. In all honesty, he'd be crazy not to stick with Sonnen and join him at Team Quest. The two have had a really good rapport on the show. Sonnen could be just the right coach/mentor to help steer Hall through the shark-infested waters that make up the middleweight division.
Aside from his obvious talent, Hall has also been blessed with amazing physical attributes. He's a big, powerful 185-pound fighter, but is fast, with lightning-quick reflexes. At 80 inches, Hall has the longest reach of any fighter currently on the middleweight roster. Combine all of these things and the fact is that Hall is a tough night out for any fighter. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, Hall still has to get through The Ultimate Fighter tournament.
Next he'll be taking on Team Jones member, and overall last pick, Dylan Andrews in one of two semifinal matchups on tonight's episode. If the MMA gods are feeling generous, Uriah Hall will win his fight and hopefully collide with heated rival Josh Samman at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale on April 13.
When Uriah Hall makes his way through the next two rounds of the tournament in similarly spectacular fashion and claims the mantle of The Ultimate Fighter, it will assuredly put him in line for a fight with a top-10 middleweight in his official UFC debut.