Uriah Hall vs. Kelvin Gastelum: Prime Time Must Have Strong Display in UFC Debut

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2013

Photo courtesy of UFC.com
Photo courtesy of UFC.com

If Prime Time wants to be a star, he's going to need to make the most of his prime-time debut in UFC.

While it would be a huge upset and enjoyable to see Kelvin Gastelum win The Ultimate Fighter 17, most want to see Uriah Hall continue the dominant run he started early in the show.

Talented fighters are popular no matter their style. It's the knockout artists who cause the greatest stir. There's a different way you watch their fights. You know that it could all end on one punch, which is of course the case in any fight. But there's a different level of excitement when seeing someone like Hall in the Octagon.

He's won his last three fights on the show all by knockout. Rarely has a fighter created the kind of buzz that Hall has as a result of his performance on The Ultimate Fighter.

The 28-year-old looks destined for a huge rise, and that has to start on Saturday night.

Perhaps the hype train has gotten a little out of hand. It's easy to look strong on TUF fighting guys who are a step below from what you see in UFC on each pay-per-view. Talk about a fight with Anderson Silva or having him contend for the title is ludicrous.

An encouraging sign is the way Hall himself has largely dismissed any sort of quick ascension to the top of the mountain and Chael Sonnen's assertion that he could handle Silva (h/t Matt Erickson and John Morgan of MMAjunkie.com):

I was shocked. I was like, 'Give me time.' But sometimes as a coach, he'll see things in you that you don't see. I guess as my coach, in that time, he saw that potential. Maybe down the line, one day it'll happen. But it's not something I'm pushing. I feel, personally, the guy's a walking legend. If I ever get the opportunity one day, that'll be great. But I'd rather work my way toward it like the rest of the guys.

That's a very humble response from Hall, and you can only hope that any success won't go to his head. He would do himself no favors by calling out Silva and demanding a title shot right now.

Clearly, Hall has a lot of work to do if he is to earn a shot for the UFC middleweight championship. He has a wealth of potential, but he would be far from the first fighter to have looked great early in their careers, only to then flame out and fade from the title spotlight.

Getting a dominant win against Gastelum will be a great step for Hall in establishing himself as a bona fide star. People who haven't been paying attention to The Ultimate Fighter would be forced to stand up and take notice of Hall.

A loss would make the criticism of the fighter only grow louder and knock him down the pecking order.

If Hall wants to be a monster in the UFC, he needs to start on Saturday night.