When an up-and-coming fighter carries a lot of expectations and hype behind them, it usually ends up being either the best or the absolute worst situation that fighter can find themselves in. If things work out and they perform up to expectations, like a Conor McGregor or a Ronda Rousey, they can find themselves sitting on the top of the sport, basking in the spotlight, in what feels like no time. However, if they don’t perform up to par, things can fall apart quickly. One of the hardest things for an MMA fighter to have to try to overcome is a derailed hype train.
Just ask Uriah Hall about that.
Hall is one of the more memorable examples of a fighter’s hype catching up to them. “Prime Time” went from being anointed a future champion while competing on The Ultimate Fighter to being almost completely forgotten as a UFC middleweight up until a recent resurgence earned him a bout with legendary former champion Anderson Silva.
Hall was a force during his time in the TUF house, scoring brutal finish after brutal finish on his way to the finals. He even landed one of the most spectacular knockouts in MMA history with his wheel-kick finish over Adam Cella. UFC President Dana White praised Hall as one of the scariest fighters to ever step foot on the reality show, and Hall’s TUF coach, Chael Sonnen, called him a contender in the middleweight division even though he wasn’t technically even in the UFC yet.
By the time Hall actually stepped into the Octagon in front of a live crowd for the first time, he was the most talked-about TUF competitor in years. He seemed like a shoo-in to defeat Kelvin Gastelum and win the tournament. However, 15 minutes later, Hall was on the losing end of a decision after getting out-grappled by the better wrestler for the majority of the fight. Hall lost both the bout and a significant amount of his hype along with it. After losing his second Octagon outing to John Howard a few months later, Hall had essentially gone from hotshot future contender to a fighter that was lucky to keep his job in the Octagon less than six months after getting his shot.
The frustrating thing about Hall is that he’s given fans glimpses of how good he can be, but he just doesn’t always deliver in the cage. Hall truly was the most devastating fighter to ever step foot on TUF while he was fighting in the gym, but Gastelum made the terrifying striker look timid at times during their bout and exposed a lot of flaws in “Prime Time’s” game. It was made perfectly clear that Hall wasn’t ready to live up to the expectations that had been placed upon him, and it would take a while before fight fans could start taking Hall seriously again.
Although his hype was essentially gone, so was a lot of the pressure that had been on Hall from the moment he stepped foot in the UFC. The New York native has rebounded well from a rocky start to his Octagon career, posting a 5-2 record. A huge win over perennial contender Gegard Mousasi last September pushed Hall back into the limelight for the first time since his early UFC days, and although “Prime Time” suffered a loss in his last outing against Robert Whittaker, he’s getting a chance to bounce back in a big way against Silva.
Almost any time a fighter steps into the cage against Silva, it’s going to end up being the biggest fight of that fighter’s career. This is doubly true for Hall. “Prime Time” does have the big win over Mousasi, but this match-up is way above and beyond anything he’s taken part in before. After once being called “the next Anderson Silva,” Hall is actually going to get a chance to try to take the throne from “The Spider” himself. Hall’s performance in this fight is going to tell us a lot about his career going forward.
If the Hall that fought inside the TUF house or against Mousasi shows up on fight night, this thing could get interesting. Even though he’s still Anderson freakin’ Silva and is capable of ending a fight in a second, “The Spider,”since returning from his leg injury a few years ago, hasn’t looked quite as untouchable as he once did. Nick Diaz did well on the feet against Silva and Michael Bisping actually won what was essentially a striking battle over Silva last month, even hurting the former champion with his boxing a few times. Hall is much more explosive than either of those guys, and if he’s on his game and Silva starts messing around and leaving his head exposed, then there’s a decent chance we could see an upset.
However, a chance is the best you can really give Hall in this fight. While he certainly has the talent to take out Silva at this point in the former champ’s career, Hall has had too many suspect performances mixed in with his good ones to consider him a good bet to beat Silva. Diaz and Bisping are still both legitimate top-10 talents and have proven to have the skills necessary to hang with anyone in MMA. Hall hasn’t done that, and while Silva hasn’t quite been the destroyer he used to be, he’s still one of the best middleweight fighters in the world. Hall is a good fighter and is capable of great performances, but his lack of consistency is casting some serious doubts on his ability to live up to the hype.