Uriah Hall was supposed to be one of the most talented and dangerous fighters to ever come out of The Ultimate Fighter, a show that has been lacking legitimate title challengers from season 6 to present day. Yet two fights later, Hall is without a UFC win, and potentially without a UFC job. Hall dropped another split decision, this time to John Howard, and Dana White was not pleased with Hall's performance or the quality of the fight. In the post-fight media scrum, Dana said that Hall just doesn't have what it mentally takes to make it in the UFC: (via MMA Fighting)
"If I could take Brad Pickett's brain and heart and put it inside Uriah Hall's body, holy s--- there would be some damage done," White said. "Because Uriah Hall has all the physical attributes to be amazing. He's got speed, he's got power, he's unbelievable. He doesn't have what it mentally takes to fight here. You know what I mean?
"Its a mental thing," White said. "He was this killer on TUF, and then he comes into the big show where it really matters and 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 after the Kelvin fight ‘I really like him, he's a really nice guy. OK, well that really nice guy just took everything you wanted. Do you get what I'm saying, does that make sense to you? I guess it doesn't make sense to him."
That's a pretty damning set of quotes from Dana and it makes you wonder if Hall is facing the pink slip.
While I agree he has the physical attributes, KO power, and athleticism, I don't believe the mental aspect is the primary reason for Hall's lack of UFC success -- that isn't to say the mental side isn't a factor, but it's harder to prove. He has obvious defensive deficiencies that have clearly not been corrected, the most glaring of which is his tendency to back up in a straight line with his chin up in the air. A seasoned striker, or someone who is a little bit more technical and bigger than John Howard, would've blasted Hall with at least one left hook. Even offensively Hall rarely strings together combinations and has not displayed any sort of sustainable offense in either of his UFC fights.
Hall is nearing 30 years old and has fought professionally 11 times, so it's time to take off the "prospect" tag. He has essentially lost back-to-back fights to welterweights despite having an enormous reach and height advantage; the two fighters he lost to in Ring of Combat (Constantinos Philippou and Chris Weidman) are now respectively a top 10 middleweight and a UFC champion. At this point in time it looks like Hall's career is stagnating.
Perhaps this loss is also more indicative of the overall quality of the TUF 17 cast. Yes, it was one of the better seasons in recent times, but when you peel the onion back it just simply looks like your typical TUF season where only 2-3 (Josh Samman, Kelvin Gastelum, and Dylan Andrews) can string together quality UFC careers if not potential title runs. Two of the guys Hall beat on TUF are no longer in the UFC, while Bubba McDaniel is a heavy underdog against Brad Tavares.
So what's next for Uriah Hall? The camp switch from Tiger Schulmann's to Reign Training Center is not off to a good start. I don't think Hall should be buried to the point of questioning whether he could beat Jared Hamman, Alessio Sakara, or even 2013 Chris Leben, but he may just be the type of fighter who would (for now) be better off on the regional scene for a few fights. If he is unable to perform well outside of the UFC then he's just about a lost cause. But if Hall can rack up a couple of knockouts, show tangible improvement in his overall game, then the UFC will almost certainly bring him back. I think this would be the best move for both Hall and the UFC, who have invested a lot of time in promoting him since he appeared on TUF only for the bubble to burst.