BOSTON – Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 26 event turned out to be one of the most entertaining fight cards in recent memory, save for one flop of a fight: John Howard vs. Uriah Hall. UFC President Dana White said he knows exactly what went wrong.
“I love Uriah Hall,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) following the evening’s post-event press conference. “I have a great relationship with this kid. He’s one of the nicest human beings you’ll ever meet. He’s not a fighter, man.”
The 29-year-old Hall (7-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC) made a huge splash on the national scene earlier this year after scoring three knockout wins on “The Ultimate Fighter 17.” Prior to the season’s live finale, some fans were calling for the middleweight to earn an immediate crack at then-champ Anderson Silva.
But at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, Hall turned in a disappointing performance, as he was seemingly unable to pull the trigger in his tournament-final bout with Kelvin Gastelum and wound up losing a split decision.
White said he remembered talking to Hall after the upset loss, only to be surprised at what he heard.
“He was this killer that everybody was afraid of on ‘TUF,’” White said. “Then he comes in to the big show, where it all really matters and where this is going to make your livelihood and everything else, and he turns into this different person, this super-nice guy.
“He was telling me when I talked to him after ‘TUF’ like, ‘You know, I just really like [Gastelum]. He’s a really nice guy.’ OK. Well that really nice guy just took every f—ing thing you ever wanted. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”
Hall was given another chance to shine at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 26 event at Boston’s TD Garden, when he met late replacement Howard (21-8 MMA, 5-3 UFC), who generally fights at 170 pounds. But Hall was again reluctant to engage and wound up allowing Howard to outwork him en route to claiming his own split-decision win over the “TUF” finalist.
The pair routinely high-fived after brief exchanges, offering up only brief glimpses of their technical prowess in favor of a slow-paced matchup that failed to deliver on entertainment.
White pointed to another UFC Fight Night 26 participant, Brad Pickett, as an example of what Hall is missing. Pickett was battered and bruised by fellow bantamweight Michael McDonald but continued to press forward until he was finally submitted in the second-round of an action-packed affair. Still, “One Punch” earned a $50,000 bonus check for his valor by scoring a “Fight of the Night” award.
“If I could take Brad Pickett’s brain and heart and put it inside Uriah Hall’s body, holy s–t there would be some damage done,” White said. “Uriah Hall has all the physical attributes to be amazing. He’s got speed. He’s got power. He’s just unbelievable. He doesn’t have what it mentally takes to fight here. That was a high-five competition.
“Listen, you’re a nice guy. I get it. We’re not here to f—ing high five. We’re not here to shake hands. You do all that s–t when the fight’s over. You’re here to fight.”
With the loss, Hall fell to 0-2 in two official UFC appearances, and both fights hardly left fans begging for more. Despite an incredible “TUF” run, it’s conceivable the UFC could release Hall in hopes of allowing him to find his stride on the regional circuit. However, White wasn’t quite ready to commit to anything just yet.
“I don’t know,” White said. “I’ve got to think about this one.”
For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 26, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Uriah Hall)