Despite taking a split-decision loss to underdog Kelvin Gastelum in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 17 Saturday night, Uriah Hall’s career outlook is still as bright as ever.
If anything, the heartbreaking loss and the lessons learned from it could be the much-needed reality check for the trash-talking Hall.
As talented as Hall proved he was during this season of TUF—he had the most vicious knockouts and looked to be an unstoppable force—the fighter brought confidence and swagger to the Octagon, which rubbed people the wrong way.
While Hall was dropping his hands and looking as if he were playing games with his opponent Saturday, Gastelum wasn’t having it and brought the fight right to the heavy favorite.
After failing to end in the allotted time, the judges ruled it 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 in favor of Gastelum, and he was awarded the contract that so many MMA fans thought was a lock for Hall.
While many wanted to claim that Hall had been too cocky in the Octagon and that’s what cost him the win, UFC president Dana White (via ESPN) talked about what he thinks happened to the favorite to win it all:
I didn't think he showboated. I think he mentally broke. I think you saw what he had this season, but when you find out what a guy really has is when he's under pressure. When you're under pressure, you find out who the Anderson Silvas and the Georges St-Pierres are, those type of guys.
White is notorious for telling it exactly how it is, and he told the truth once again.
Hall fights a certain style that encompasses some arrogant moves—like middleweight champion Anderson Silva—but the purpose of the technique is to get an opponent off-balance and fearful of what is coming next.
Hall’s problem was that he didn’t follow it up with the devastating attacks that earned him three straight KO victories leading into this finale. He told media after his fight (via ESPN) about what was going through his mind and why he wasn’t focused in the biggest fight of his career:
A big part of it is, it's kind of hard because I trained with the guy and I like him. It was kind of like that emotional side I was trying to get rid of. So it was kind of weird, just going into the ring I was like, ‘Oh, sh*t. Here we go again. That side kind of got the best of me, but there's no excuse. Kelvin's a great guy. He's a tough kid. I think he's going to go really far in this sport and I'm happy for him.
The key here is that Hall learns from the loss and uses the lessons he learns to build his career moving forward.
Hall still has all the same talent and raw skill in the Octagon that he had before this loss, but now he must become smarter for the next time the situation arises. As we saw from his performance this season, Hall has the ability to dominate in the UFC, but he has to catch up with his knowledge of adversity and how to overcome it.
Adversity is something the best champions in MMA have to face sooner rather than later in the Octagon, but the hope is that Hall will use these lessons to ensure that he never has to face this same trouble again.
The future is still very bright for Hall, and it will only get brighter if he learns from the loss.