It’s almost one year later, and lightweight Ben Wall (7-0-1) is still frustrated with himself.
“It was a good time, but I didn’t perform like I usually do,” Wall told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “It was probably my worst performance ever in a fight.”
Undefeated as a professional fighter, Wall was full of confidence ahead of 2012's “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes,” which saw British and Australian fighters compete for UFC contracts on the international version of the long-running reality competition series. Yet in the very first bout of the season’s 155-pound tournament, Wall suffered a unanimous-decision loss to eventual finalist Colin Fletcher.
“I had a really bad gameplan for that fight,” Wall said. “It was not to take him down and to box with him. He’s really long and stuff, and I think the coaches made me a bit more scared of his guillotine than I should have been. They talked up his guillotine like it was amazing. I was paranoid about getting choked and didn’t really do anything.
“Next time I would just take him down and ground and pound him. That’s what I’ve done in all my other fights.”
Eliminated so early in the show, Wall found himself taking part in some of the more memorable social activities of the season, including a wasabi-snorting competition and an epic food fight. By the end of the show, the bitter rivalry between the two nations had settled into a more friendly relationship. Wall said he enjoyed the experience but was always left with the bitter taste of that early exit.
“I was pretty disappointed just with the performance,” Wall said. “Being in there, they edit it a lot to make it look however they want. But it was a good time being in there, and I got along with all the guys really well. It was just the fight performance that was the only bad thing. I just want another shot.”
Wall didn’t get that luxury on the show’s live finale. With the tournament finals taking place at this past December’s UFC on FX 6 event, just a handful of non-finalists were invited to compete on the card, and Wall was not among them.
“I was really disappointed,” Wall said. “The last couple of seasons, they’ve brought all the fighters back to fight on the finale. This time it was only a couple of guys, so I was pretty disappointed in that. I thought I would get a shot.”
Instead, it was back to Australia’s regional scene for Wall. He returned to action in March, where he earned a unanimous-decision win over Jai Bradney at a Nitro MMA event in Queensland, Australia. Then it was a bout two-time UFC vet Bernardo Magalhaes in the mixed-rules event Combat 8, which sees fighters don MMA gloves for what ultimately amounts to boxing matches that allow for groundfighting in just 30-second intervals.
“It was pretty much just a boxing match,” Wall said. “No one went for a takedown at all. It was just a boxing match, and I landed more than him and beat him in the clinch against the cage, as well, so that’s what won me the fight.”
That victory isn’t reflected on his official MMA record, but Wall said he enjoyed the experience and would be open to fighting for the promotion again. In the meantime, he’s planning on visiting a few North American gyms in hopes of getting a few new looks in practice.
All of it, Wall said, he does with one goal in mind. The UFC has already announced its intentions of returning to Australia in December, and Wall hopes to earn another shot in the octagon on that card.
“I’m just going to keep winning fights and hopefully get a shot in the UFC at the end of the year,” Wall said. “It’s my dream to fight in the UFC when it comes back to Australia.”
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