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Dana White on Uriah Hall, 'I was purposely sticking it to him, no doubt about it'

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UFC president Dana White talks about the harsh words he had for Uriah Hall in the past, and how Hall claims those words have given him motivation

USA TODAY Sports

During season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter, the brutal head kick that Uriah Hall landed on his opponent Adam Cella left a room full of fighters and UFC brass stunned into silence.

Hall followed that spinning wheel kick with two more knockouts, earning a spot in the season final against Kelvin Gastelum. Many thought that the 5' 9" Gastelum was being served up on a platter to the six-foot tall wrecking machine that was Uriah Hall. The odds for the fight had Hall as a -300 favorite over the +220 Gastelum.

However, a funny thing happened in that fight. The wrecking machine that ran roughshod over his earlier TUF opponents was absent. Not only did Hall not KO Gastelum, he dropped a split decision to Gastelum, who promptly took his TUF 17 middleweight trophy and decided to drop to welterweight.

During the Gastelum fight, Hall lacked the killer instinct that he had shown in his run up to the final. In his next contest, things were no better. Hall showed a distinct lack of aggression during his UFC Fight Night 26 bout against John Howard, again dropping a split decision.

The two consecutive losses left UFC president Dana White lamenting, "I love Uriah Hall. I have a great relationship with this kid. He's one of the nicest human beings you can ever meet. He's not a fighter, man."

Saturday, when Hall faces Chris Leben at UFC 168, may be Hall's final chance to prove to White that he is a fighter. That he does belong in the UFC.

According to White, the strongly worded message that he delivered to following the loss to Howard came through loud and clear, "I got some texts from Uriah saying, ‘I'm glad you said all that stuff about me because it motivated me'," White said during Thursday's media scrum. "So, we'll see on Saturday."

When asked why it seemed as if he was going out of his way at times to needle Hall in the past. White replied, "I was purposely sticking it to him, no doubt about it."

A dominant victory will most likely keep Hall's name on the UFC's middleweight roster. But a victory where he still shows some reluctance to engage? That type of victory may not save his job according to White, "I have to see the fight and see what happens. He's just been so passive in his fights."

The message from White is clear heading into UFC 168, he wants to see at least a little bit of the fighter that was wrecking his castmates during TUF 17.